In my past review of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, I gave you kind readers the advice to save your cash until Stephen King’s IT came out on Sept. 8. I really hope you listened, because with this film, it is money well worth spent!
I am a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read most of his books, and have watched most of the movies that are based on said books. IT however, holds a very special place in my geeky heart. When the miniseries came out in 1990, I was captivated by Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. So much so, that now the character is one of my favorite cosplays to wear to comic-con and horror conventions.
In fact, I dressed up as the classic Pennywise to go to a special premiere party at the Studio Movie Grill in The Colony. One of my cosplay friends, Kevin Lewis (@ImaginaryFX on social media), was hired to promote the event, as well as run the party. So I knew it was going to be something special.
The movie was even more special than I could imagine. While the book has the kids growing up in the 1950s, I really liked that the film takes place in the 1980s, since I grew up in that time, I already felt closer to the characters.
Stephen King’s IT
MPAA rating: R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard
Director: Andy Muschietti
Run time: 135 minutes
The film begins with Bill making a sailboat made out of notebook paper for his younger brother, Georgie. While Bill stays in bed, choosing not to go out on a rainy October day in Derry, Maine, Georgie puts on his yellow raincoat and black rainboots and with paper sailboat in hand, he races outside. As he sets his sailboat down onto the street, it takes off with Georgie in fast pursuit.
But he’s not fast enough and the sailboat washes away down the gutter. As he looks into the drain, he sees a strange man dressed up as a clown that introduces himself as “Pennywise the Dancing Clown” (played by Bill Skarsgård.) He claims the storm blew him into the sewers, and asks Georgie if he would like a balloon. Georgie says he wants his boat back. Pennywise holds up Georgie’s boat and asks for him to reach in to retrieve it, but when Georgie does, Pennywise grabs his arm and bites it off, then drags him into the sewer. Only a neighbor’s cat is witness to this occurrence.
Then the movie flashes forward eight months to June 1989. It’s the last day of school at Derry Middle School. Here we see Bill and are introduced to his friends, Richie Tozier (played by Finn Wolfhard), Eddie Kaspbrak (played by Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley Uris (played by Wyatt Oleff), as well as bully Henry Bowers (played by Nicholas Hamilton) and his gang. We’re also introduced to Beverly Marsh (played by Sophia Lillis), and Ben Hanscom (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor). Finally, we meet Mike Hanlon (played by Chosen Jacobs), rounding out the mix of characters that we will follow through the summer, where each will have his/her own run-in with Pennywise as well as their darkest fears, which they will have to overcome if they are to defeat “IT.”
I was very impressed at the strong cast of child actors, as well as the backstories written for each and every one of them. We get to see that there is more afoul with the town of Derry than “IT”, from Beverly’s creepy father, to Eddie’s hypochondriac and overbearing mother. Each of the kids not only has to deal with the fears that are brought about with Pennywise, but also with the daily struggles in their own lives.
Skarsgård does an excellent job at taking the Pennywise character to a whole new, creepier level. The way that he goes from innocent clown, talking of popcorn and cotton candy, to a more frightening, drooling, “that-weird-thing-he-does-with-his-eyes monster”, will be sure to give you nightmares for a few days. The added special effects used for various Pennywise scenes were masterful and breathtaking at times. I was surprised and very happy with the amount of “jump-scares” this film had. It made for great fun!
The other surprise for me was how many times I laughed out loud during the movie. It’s a bunch of middle school kids, so of course, there’s going to be some crude humor, but it fits the era of the film, and is a nice buffer between all the gore and scares.
The biggest problem I had with this film was how much of an afterthought the Mike Hanlon character was. While they did offer some backstory for him, throughout the rest of the film, he is always placed at the side, the peripheral. This is the character who ends up staying in Derry and keeps tabs of everything that goes on. I would have liked for him to had some more lines and scenes.
As I am writing this, the results are in with the film having a record-breaking opening weekend of over $117 million! Not only is that the largest ever opening for a horror movie and the largest September opening of all time, the film more that doubled the earnings of the previous record holders! So I’m sure that some of you reading this have already seen the film. For those of you who haven’t and you like a good scare, then I highly recommend this film. For those who have seen it, go see it again! I know I am!
Now say it with me! “You’ll float too!” “You’ll float too!” “You’ll float too!”
It’s all Geek to us!