It: An Entertaining Mix of Horror and Humor
Movie Review by Anirudh Madhav (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
The 1990’s mini-series adaptation of It failed to do justice to the terrifying and troubling theme of Stephen King’s 1,200 pages book, mainly due to its bland screenplay and toned-down scenes of violence due to broadcasting regulations. But the new adaptation directed by Mama fame Andy Muschietti has managed to bring out the disturbing theme of the book with effective characterization and plenty of scary moments.
Set in the 1980s in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of seven teens known as the ‘Losers’ club’ set out to investigate the disappearance of Bill’s (Jaeden Lieberher) little brother George (Jackson Robert Scott). Even as they investigate, their worst fears haunt them in terrifying visions, which eventually lead them to the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), a clown.
The film focuses on schoolhouse years of It, giving ample scope for the director to capture the various elements of the book. Starting from the chubby little kid Ben Ranscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), who is bullied by seniors to the talkative Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), every teen in the group has brilliantly portrayed their characters and their anxieties. Beverly Marsh (Spohia Lillis), the only girl in the group excels as a tomboy, who attracts attention in subtle moments of love and child-like curiosity.
While the teens take up most of It’s screen time, Pennywise leaves you with haunting memories from the movie. He pops up in the unlikeliest of places in different shapes, leaving his petrifying presence among viewers. Andy has heavily relied on Claude Pare’s production design and the genius art and set decoration by Peter Grundy and Rosalie Board. The scene featuring a room filled with clowns adds another dimension to the scare meter.
It is one of those few horror movies where the writers have tweaked the characters from the book, lending a touch of friendship and romance. Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame is spot on with his smart dialogues and body language, adding to the humor element in the film.
Andy and cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung have ensured that the movie retains a realistic touch throughout with varying color tones, eerie elements with jump-scare effects. The music and background score is quite well-placed. The soundtrack accompanying a certain sequence that shows Pennywise’s dance in a circus setting leaves you with goosebumps.
Fans of Stephen King’s book, will find the movie giving too much importance to the teens and giving less screen time to Pennywise, who makes more frequent appearance in the book. However, Andy has done justice to the book by condensing certain parts and dedicating the schoolhouse years in the first part of It movie.
The It movie works for its fantastic performances, quite a few hair-raising scenes that will give you creeps and the fact that it tries lending authenticity to the story. It also easily surpasses the 1990’s mini-series and joins the list as one of the best Stephen King’s book adaptations ever. After watching the movie you probably wouldn’t look at red balloons and clowns in the same way again!