Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher & Sophia Lillis
Synopsis: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.
Rating: 15 Duration: 135 minutes Release date: 8 September (UK)
There are times when It feels less like a horror film and more like a modern homage to Steven Spielberg and the great films of the 1980’s. Here we have a group of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood who are faced with more than their share of problems to overcome. Not least is the demonic clown known as Pennywise who is the titular It of the film. It manifests as these children’s nightmares and plays on the fears of youth, abuse and loneliness and in fact does more to scare in those moments than it does when Bill Skarsgård’s killer clown is on the screen.
Moving events to the 1980’s brings out a lovely Stranger Things vibe to the film, punctuated by posters for Gremlins and Beetlejuice as well as the local cinema screening Batman and the A Nightmare On Elm Street 5. The pop culture references don’t just make for cute add-on to the film, but they also help give the film an innocence similar to another of Stephen King’s works; Stand By Me. It, is more a coming of age film that just happens to have a clown that lives in the sewer and feeds upon the flesh of young children.
Pennywise himself, unfortunately, is not actually that scary. Don’t misunderstand this point and take nothing away from Bill Skarsgård’s wonderful performance, but the more we see of him the less scary he is. Granted, his introduction to the film is as grand as any horror icon could wish for, but director Andy Muschietti preference for jump scares seems to negate the fear factor when Pennywise is on screen. There is also a clear use of CGI in some scenes, which is odd when you consider how much more convincing the character is when in the flesh. Muschietti’s previous film; Mama, was also heavily reliant on the jump scare technique and that film also suffered from a debilitating final third.
Luckily, It, despite being an exceptionally long film, does enough to keep you entertained for its 135 minute duration. This is largely down to the hugely likeable teenage cast. Despite falling into the usual genre tropes, we have a cast who the viewer is eager to spend more time with. The only downfall will be when It chapter two arrives, the cast will be played by different actors cast to look 27 years older. Still, we can always enjoy the coming of age of the characters here and come back to visit this world whatever the sequel brings us.