Are you ready to be terrified all over again?
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Written by: Chase Palmer (screenplay by), Cary Fukunaga (screenplay by), Stephen King (novel)
Run Time: 2 hr, 15 min
Original Year of Release: 2017
When Warner Bros. announced that they were making a film adaptation of Stephen King’s “IT" I was a tad skeptical. After reviews of King’s film adaptation of The Dark Tower started arriving, my expectations really dropped. I had never seen the original IT TV Mini-Series (too many VHS tapes), but I was curious enough to pick up the series for $5.00 over the summer.
September arrived and as my thoughts turned to Halloween and general spookiness, I decided that, with some great reviews of the film, to give the new IT a go. The Mini-Series had peeked my interest, so what would a big budget adaptation of IT look like? Box Office returns and word of mouth told me how the audiences and critics found the film. It quickly caught on and stayed at the top of the box office for longer than most R-rated films do, let alone R-rated horror films.
Certainly, there is a nostalgia factor in this latest adaptation of IT. Netflix’s Stranger Things has made everything and anything from the Eighties cool again. So when the minds behind IT updated the story to take place in the late Eighties over the original source material, it gave modern audiences something to cling to, an element that most modern horror films have faulted on.
The film itself is terrifying. The opening segment alone, where Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) falls prey to the creature, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), is enough to scare anyone. Yet, as horrific as the clown in the sewer was and continued to be, the real horrors of the film where real word terrors that plagued the kids who called themselves “The Losers Club”.
Bill Skarsgård did a fantastic job and it is no small feat following the steps of the legendary Tim Curry (who played the original Pennywise in the TV Mini-Series). Yet Nicholas Hamilton’s bully, Henry Bowers, delivered more real scares than a clown that wanted to eat your soul. A bully, running unchecked with a goon squad and access to knives and a gun, is something scary, no matter what decade we live in. Hamilton held nothing back so when we see the hate and rage in his eyes, you actually feel it. A monster that we all have our own version of beats something we will never have to deal with in the real world (sewer clown). This is just the first villain “The Losers” most overcome together.
Both Beverly (Sophia Lillis) and Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer) deal with another type of real-world terror, bad parents. They are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but here we have two characters who have to fear people who are supposed to care for them. Beverly has a lecherous father and Eddie has an overprotective mother. Both of them need to overcome these monsters and this makes our clown a little less terrifying, but allows the film to feel more real.
With all these monsters around, Andy Muschietti accomplishes the brilliant task of making the audience identify with at least one member of “The Losers Club”. We feel more than terror in the film, we get a sense kinship to these characters. I was reminded of Stephen King and Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me while watching the film. It is easy to play connect the dots and see the similarities, but that feeling of belonging and kinship, so rare in films today, shined through. The line from Stand By Me, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.” certainly rings true here in IT and that might be its greatest accomplishment. Not the fear and terror, but its ability to make you feel like “The Losers” are your friends. An instant classic, if ever there was one.
The sequel. IT: Chapter 2 is slated for 2019. Hopefully, the grown-up incarnations of the kids, brilliantly portrayed here, can deliver that same kind of magic and make you feel a part of the group again.
Own IT on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD on January 9th, or Own It Now on Digital HD!
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
Special features have almost become passé in a world loaded with YouTube behind-the-scenes interviews. With that being said, most of the time they are cut up as to not reveal any spoilers. However, does anyone actually watch them on the home release now? If you normally don’t, I highly recommend checking out the three BTS special features included here (approximately 15 minutes each) and a ton of deleted scenes.
Pennywise Lives! - Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise) and director Andy Muschietti dive deep into the process and nuances that went into terrifying the children. Skarsgård also reveals how much of himself is inside Pennywise and where the lip and eye-rolling originated.
The Losers’ Club - Here we see how the bond was formed off screen by teenage stars of IT and how that friendship carried over to the screening cementing the film as an instant classic. Furthermore, this feature reveals how emotional their last days of filming actually were.
Author of Fear - If you ever questioned how or why IT is so different from all the other stories of Stephen King, you find your answers in this featurette. The heart of why you love this film is contained here!
Deleted Scenes – Here you will find eleven deleted or extended scenes from the film. You will question why at least two scenes from the Denbrough Family found their way to the cutting room floor. All of them, though, are worth the watch.