Release Date: September 8, 2017
Floating Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Rated R for violence & language
Directed By: Andres Muschietti
When you’re a kid, you think that the universe revolves around you. You think that you’ll always be protected and cared for. Then one day you realize that’s not true.
In 1989, Bill and his younger brother, Georgie Denbrough, are making a paper boat for Georgie to play with during a rainstorm. Since Bill is feeling under the weather, he does not go outside. Georgie, dressed in his yellow raincoat and galoshes, struggles to keep up with the boat and is disappointed when it falls into a drain. There he encounters a creepy clown who calls himself Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Pennywise tricks Georgie into reaching into the drain which causes him to join the multitude of children that have gone missing in the town of Derry, Maine.
A year later, Bill is haunted by the memory of his little brother and still believes that he may be alive. He and his friends (Richie, Eddie, and Stanley) are ritually tormented by the town bully (Henry Bowers) and his gang. After a particularly sadistic tormenting of a new kid in town named Ben Hanscom, the boys take Ben into their circle. That summer Beverly Marsh, who is also being picked on by a group of girls, also joins the group. When Henry’s gang focus their attention on the home schooled Mike Hanlon, he too becomes of a member of the newly formed Losers Club. Having spent most of the previous school year alone, Ben has done extensive research on the history of Derry due to the seemingly adult aloofness regarding the disappearance of children.
Every member of the Losers Club has their own demons that they wrestle with, but the one thing that they have in common is that they’ve seen the mysterious Pennywise in one form or another. Determined to put an end to the 27 year cycle of missing children, The Losers Club decide put an end to the madness and hunt Pennywise down.
Are you just going to pretend that it isn’t happening like everyone else in this town? If we stick together, we win.
Andres Muschietti’s version of Stephen King’s 1986 best selling novel IT, is a horror/drama film that you can really sink your teeth into. As King states in the prologue, the children really do bring the project to life. In addition, they honor King’s masterpiece and their talent seeps into every scene that they are in. From Jaeden Lieberher’s strong lead protagonist characterization of ‘Stuttering Bill’ to Nicholas Hamilton’s horrifying portrayal of Henry Bower’s barbarous ways, the young actors clearly hold their own in front of the camera. Also notable was little Jackson Robert Scott’s film debut as Georgie and Finn Wolfhard’s ‘trash mouth’ comic relief throughout the mesmerizing 135 minute running time.
Muschietti’s strategy of isolating Bill Skarsgard from the rest of the cast to heighten their fear of the character paid off in spades. As Pennywise, Skarsgard sets the bar for an evil entity depiction that made the hair on my arms stand up and sent a chill down my spine. He dove so deep into his character that he consistently had nightmares throughout production and avoided the use of CGI by focusing his eyes in different directions. The performances were so engaging that the audience I viewed it with were active participants through laughter, cringing, and applause.
Even though the budget did not allow the inclusion of a few key elements of the book, the storyline and script are so tight that not even a balloon can squeeze through it. While the foundation of the screenplay by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman remains, Muschietti made several changes when he replaced Fukunaga in the director’s chair to revert back to paying homage to the novel.
So whether you are a die-hard Stephen King fan or a novice, this modern day version is extremely entertaining. Add this to the superb casting, outstanding cinematography, and a heart pounding musical score, Warner Brothers’ 2017 fall release should continue alluring and terrifying audiences well into October. Well, at least I hope it does so that I can enjoy Chapter 2 in the near future! Float on into the theater to enter the deranged world of Derry! ~Movie Buffette