Adaptation Drama

'It' Film Review: Clowns have never been more terrifying, but it's the kids who carry this remake

September 7, 2017Ben MK

It's been 27 years since Tim Curry donned the makeup, the wig and the red nose. Now, director Andy Muschietti and actor Bill Skarsgård are bringing a new adaptation of Stephen King's "It" to the big screen, with results that are sure to instill a fear of clowns in a whole new generation of moviegoers.

Unfolding over the summer of 1989, the story follows four friends, all of whom find themselves in the unenviable position of being outsiders at their school. But while their classmates spend their vacation playing and getting into mischief, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stan (Wyatt Oleff) have more serious matters on their minds, as they set out to uncover the truth behind the recent rash of missing children in their small town of Derry, Maine — a place that's no stranger to strange goings-on.

For Bill, their mission is especially personal. Come October, it will be one year since his younger brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), disappeared without a trace one stormy afternoon. And although Bill's parents seem to have accepted their grief and moved on, he just can't bring himself do the same. Bill's dogged determination to find out what happened to Georgie may prove to be his and his friends' undoing, however, as it draws them straight into the lair of the creature — the "It" — responsible for the terror being wreaked upon their neighborhood.

Along the way, the foursome recruit three more members into their "Losers' Club," welcoming Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) into the fold. Like Bill and company, these three also know what it's like to be bullied and abused, and it's this shared experience — not to mention the fact that they've each been plagued by horrifying visions that prey on their deepest, darkest fears — that bonds them. Suffice to say, by the end of it all, this ragtag group will have learned the true meaning of the term "strength in numbers."

With terrifying, creepy and, at times, utterly shocking results, It puts the 1990 version of the Stephen King story to shame. But make no mistake, even though the scenes in which Skarsgård's Pennywise the Dancing Clown lurks and stalks the kids — taking such nightmarish forms as a headless cadaver, a demented leper and a grotesque painting come to life — are some of the most disturbing ever put to film, it's the chemistry and camaraderie between these young actors — whose innocent looks belie a maturity well beyond their years — that really carries the movie.

From Wolfhard as the group's resident smart aleck, to Lieberher's transition from stuttering coward to fearless leader, and the sort-of-love-triangle that develops between Beverly, Ben and Bill, these relative unknowns bring emotion, humor and an authenticity to their roles that's difficult to fake. And if It: Chapter Two were to happen — as the film's final frames tease — it will be because of them. The only downside, in that case, would be saying goodbye to these characters in favor of continuing the story with their adult counterparts.

It releases September 8th, 2017 from Warner Bros. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 15 min.

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