“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify I’ll go for gross-out. I’m not proud.”
3 / 5
Stephen King is author that has one of the most loyal and enthusiastic followings of nearly any writer in history. His fans obsess and devour his books, so no wonder why he is also regularly adapted to the screen. There are many shoddy productions of Stephen King material. This is well produced at the least. You can tell that from the clear images and the visuals and detailed production value. But does it succeed in and kind of engaging horror?
IT tells the story of a small town called Derry in the eighties where it seems Norman Rockwell’esque, however people are going missing, mostly children. Only a handful of children are catching onto the pattern that there always seen the same demented clown appears and they unite in solving the mystery.
The children are Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) who has a stutter and is very determined to solve the mystery because a year ago he lost his brother Georgie to the clown. Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is the new kid in school as well as being overweight so he spends time in the library. Richie (Finn Wolfhard) is the wisecracking comedy relief who’s jokes don’t always land but he keeps trying. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) is the timid, germaphobe who is the one to suggest that they don’t go into the scary places. Mike (Chosen Jacobs) the only black youth in the whole town and has suffered hardships of being an outsider. Stan (Wyatt Oleff) who is the most logical one, believing in facts and rational and second guesses all the supernatural elements. Finally there is Bev played by Sophia Lillis, who is by far the best talent in the movie. She is able to encapsulate all the fear, confidence and insecurities within this one character. I hope to see her go onto more things.
Until now our only personification of Pennywise the clown was Tim Curry in the miniseries. That was a fun performance but only in the sense that it was an actor going all out with not restrictions. Watching it now as a fully grown adult, you’ll probably be entertained but doubtful be scared. Now Bill Skarsgard is under the makeup, he also goes all out in his performance, however there are delicate touches of control here, adding glimpses of his sinister intentions through bouncy clowning. Also aiding in the overall terror of his performance are some genuinely creepy ideas of what to do with him (none I shall spoil). Finally he comes with much more convincing special effects this time around.
King is a writer who has developed many reoccurring cliches within his work (IT has more than a few). But the one I want to focus on is the way too mean and soulless portrayal of bullies. The bully here is a boy names Henry (Nicholas Hamilton), a complete psychopath that must be a bully, it is his desperate role in life. This is over-the-top and quite frankly unbelievable,
Just like in A Cure for Wellness, Benjamine Walfisch delivers a melodic score that starts as whimsical childhood and then drifts into demented screams. Much like Bernard Herman in Psycho for the main moments of fright he cuts out all other instruments and just uses the strings, creating high-pitched shrieks.
As of this point of writing this review I have never read a Stephen King novel. However from what I understand of his prose they have great ideas and are engaging page turners. However they also are very wild and don’t lend themselves to being put to screen because of an idea that would work while reading it might not be so brilliant when is actually visualised. As for what the book is like I do not know, but they seem to have run with the idea and added and changed elements to make them better suited for the medium.
Whilst there are moments of genuine frightening material in here there are other moments when it goes too far and it’s just the movie yelling at you. Though for the moments of the children being children and the moments of fright they are very much worth it.