It’s impossible to watch the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s IT without comparisons of the 1990 miniseries immediately coming to mind. Thankfully, despite the series’ iconic performance from Tim Curry, this new film isn’t just leaps and bounds better than the original, it’s also an excellent film in it’s own right. Telling the story of a group of children who battle with a supernatural creature that takes the form of a devilishly creepy clown, IT isn’t your typical monster movie. Instead, IT is a movie with a monster in it.
The heart of the film isn’t in the threat of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, but instead the growing friendship of the Loser’s Club, a group of young outcasts that are looking to enjoy summer vacation despite living in one of the creepiest towns in America. Abusive parents, sociopathic bullies, and missing kids are all part of the norm in the town of Derry, so the threat of a killer clown almost feels like a welcome distraction for the lovable Losers. Led by the stuttering Bill, who is still reeling from death of his younger brother Georgie, one by one the Losers all come to grips with not only the realization that the threat of Pennywise is very real but that they’ll need to band together if they hope to survive.
It’s hard to maintain a sense of balance amongst a core cast of seven, and while some of the kids enjoy a bit more of the spotlight than others, everyone is well represented and no one is superfluous. A mixture of strong writing and brilliant performances bring the Losers to life and make them feel like real kids with their chemistry shining throughout. With every inappropriate joke or awkward moment shared creating a genuine sense of friendship that makes their journey all the more personal and enveloping.
However, the movie isn’t called The Loser’s Club, it’s IT. Bill Skarsgård isn’t your daddy’s Pennywise. He isn’t the goofy and colorful Dancing Clown that Tim Curry famously brought to life. Combining both terror and creepiness, every time Pennywise slithers or sneaks onscreen you’re left feeling uncomfortable. Utilizing quality CGI and masterful camerawork, Pennywise truly feels like something out of a nightmare. Skarsgård initially seemed like an unconventional choice for the character, but thanks to excellent character design and his own terrifying performance, the modern era has a Pennywise that is sure to haunt you for years to come.
Those who have followed the the film’s production history know that it was a bumpy road bringing the story back to life. Experiencing both changes in the director’s chair and with the title character, the movie was facing an uphill battle, but thankfully IT rose to the occasion and provided both a quality horror story and a tale of friendship with a lot of heart. You will enjoy watching the Loser’s Club play at the lake just as much as seeing them combat Pennywise. Accomplishing something that few horror stories are able, IT leaves you wanting more.