Ever think clowns could get creepier? No? Neither did I. But then I watched IT.

The film used up all its 135 minutes to tell a complete story, never failing to reference both the original movie and the novel by Stephen King. Tim Curry in the original 1990 movie played a sarcastic, evil clown that was worthy of its time, while Bill Skarsgård played a sadistic, evil clown that is worthy of today. Tim’s Pennywise performance in the 1990 film should be revered, but there is something chilling and modern about Bill’s rendition of Pennywise. It is a perfectly uncomfortable character. Also, like the original story, Bill’s Pennywise clown is not the only evil form. And for avid fans, some of those evil creatures are new.

Tim Curry playing Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 1990

Tim Curry playing Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 1990 film

The film draws you in like a slow gesturing finger beckoning its prey. The iconic opening paper boat scene holds true, offering its own creepy atmosphere. And it offers a lot more than just a scary face from Pennywise – it’s a truly traumatic opening scene. If you don’t flinch, you’re likely a complete apathetic. And avid fans will not be disappointed by how similar it is to the book.

Now, I will say not all scenes from the film are similar to the book. But all that you could forgive, I think. For one, the scattered storyline captured in the original novel and the 1990 film has been scrapped, making way for a linear narrative. For another, Bill Denborough (played by Jaeden Lieberher) is not as stuttery, which is nicer because there is no need to pity him for that; something which was apparent in the 1990 film.

But there are new similarities to the Stephen King novel that were never seen in the 1990 version (*spoilers*). The horror house on Neibolt street; Henry Bowers (played by Nicholas Hamilton) murdering his father with a switchblade knife through the neck; the Paul Bunyan statue in the park; and Ben Hanscom’s (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor) true fate when he met Bowers and his knife (*spoilers over*). Perhaps what really captivated me about the film is that, compared to the 1990 version, IT‘s storyline captured the original novel stringently. Director Andy Muschietti selected all the noteworthy scenes.

And it never failed to scare. A downside to many horror films is that the scary parts don’t live up to your expectations, but this film sure does. If it’s a scary clown you want, it’s a sadistic clown you get. If a balloon’s gonna pop, it will burst. If a limb is gonna get bitten off, it will get ripped off with razor sharp teeth. You get your money’s worth.

But what is amazing about the film is how it balanced the scary moments with comedy. It’s hard to do this because if you give too much comedy it tarnishes the scare. This film offered enough. They are little sighs of relief, but deep down you know that evil clown is lurking somewhere.

And lastly, there’s a particular gel between the seven main characters – or the ‘Losers Club’ as they call themselves. They almost make you feel like a kid again – the undeniable innocence of teenagehood and immaturity. The crude humour. Companionship. The seven main characters, carefully curated, portrayed all that it means to be a kid in the 80s.

The Losers Club: Actors left to right: Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor.

The Losers Club: Actors left to right: Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor.

IT is a powerful creation, which in some ways is so much better than the 1990 version. I still hold a special place in my heart for the original film, especially the creepy performance by Tim Curry, but this one had its own charm. Its own insidious satisfaction.

Every scene had a purpose. The cinematography was somehow part of the chilling performance. The special effects were eerily detailed. There was a certain verisimilitude in the acting. And the sound enveloped every mood and sent it straight through the screen. A delightfully harrowing experience.

 

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