The time has finally come. The distractions are gone. Well, not completely gone but the voices in my head have dissipated down to a soft murmur. At last, I can kick this party off! And what better film to do it with than the new horror heavy hitter IT!
Stephen King has sure hit the jackpot of exposure recently. Not that he has never been popular before, but the 70 year old writer is currently smack dab in the middle of what is possibly one of the biggest pop cultural resurgences someone in his field has ever experienced. There has always been a somewhat steady stream of book-to-film adaptions flowing throughout his career but this sudden whirlwind of new content is crazy! I feel like I’m in a Stephen King frenzy, frothing from my mouth! He has projects stacked on projects overlapping so thoroughly that I don’t even have time to come up for air!
OK. It’s time to calm down a bit. They are all looking at me. I better reel it back in and do what I came here to do. Let’s begin.
You already know the deal. Scary clown, lurks in sewers, remake of the 1990 miniseries. The grapevine has been violently rustling with the details of IT. If you haven’t heard the news yet
you must live under a fucking rock this movie is a MUST-SEE! IT is the current sensation sweeping the nation and is arguably the most hyped movie of the year in general let alone in the horror genre.
Just in case you are that one person who is shut off from civilization let me break it down for you. IT starts off in 1988 where Georgie and his brother Bill are making a paper boat for Georgie to sail out in the rain. When Georgie never returns from playtime, Bill and his friends devise a plan to find him. As more and more children in town begin to disappear the kids start to have run-ins with a menacing clown. Once they are exposed to the horrid malevolence behind the balloons and face paint they plot to destroy the evil once and for all.
Director Andy Muschietti (Mama) really knocks this one out of the park. IT is an instant classic and blows the miniseries out of the water. A lot of people are still talking about how they love the old version but I guarantee they haven’t gone back and re-watched it lately. I have and I can tell you while it was a decent effort at the time of its release, it doesn’t hold up very well at all these days.
Let’s talk performances. The warm light of greatness shines broadly over the entire cast. Even the weaker characters (Stanley, Henry, etc.) are hoisted up by the rest of the group. The actors that stood out the most to me were Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Jack Dylan Grazer (Me, Myself and I) and of course Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove, Atomic Blonde) who delivers a chilling portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Pennywise isn’t the only monster doling out chilled spines, however. There is also a slew of other creeps for those of you who are, like me, not particularly frightened by clowns, but let me make one thing clear: this clown is the stuff of nightmares. You might not believe me if you are only going by what you have seen in the trailers, but know that those promo clips only scratch the surface of how horrific that bastard gets!
Speaking of the trailers, one of my favorite aspects of this film is that the promotional materials didn’t ruin the best parts of the movie. Nowadays it is commonplace for studios to put watered down versions of the biggest scenes into their trailers, especially with the jumpy horror films. By the time you see the movie you find yourself calling out everything as it happens and you wind up feeling cheated. IT managed to captivate me with its initial trailer, hype me up with its second, and still flood me with shocking content throughout its entirety. The positively gruesome conclusion of the opening sequence alone left me picking my jaw up off of the ground and still makes me shiver just thinking about it. From that point on I knew IT was going to go all in. The film’s high points start at an adequate level of intensity but then get pushed even further to really make you squirm in your seat and I absolutely love it! I found myself saying, “Did they REALLY just do that!?” more than once.
The hefty task of translating King’s work from the page to the screen is handled with utmost care. When the script does diverge from the source material it feels justified and necessary. This film is only the first portion of the story, with the second installment to pick up 27 years later when the characters will return to their hometown of Derry to once again deal with various terrors. It makes sense to split it up this way because there is no effective way anyone could adapt that whopper of a novel (1,477 pages!) without ruining it one way or another and having a runtime of 4 and a half hours. I am really looking forward to see what Muschietti does with the sequel. I am hoping it will be at least as good as its predecessor. As a quick side note, I am also very much looking forward to seeing what kind of character Skarsgard will portray in the upcoming Stephen King anthology series Castle Rock.
To put it simply, IT blew me away. It really did knock my socks off! I loved it so much that I went and saw it again to make it part of this MASSACRE MARATHON. Many movies get hyped up these days but it is rare for a film to live up to those higher standards. Muschietti & Co deliver the full course meal. If the movie is still playing near you I suggest you go see it before it is out of theaters. It truly is worth the trip to see Pennywise in all of his glory on the big screen!
5 blood red balloons out of 5
(Me watching the internet [sewer] for any IT: Part 2 tidbits.)