I hate hype, it’s like an ugly little creature with nothing to offer but disappointment and an indescribable stench lying somewhere between wet dog and a shit it just dropped on the lawn. But every now and then something unexpected happens and that little bastard drops pure gold. IT is that ever elusive golden nugget.
What so many horror films before fail to do and what this does best is development of its characters. Every character is important and distinctive bringing their own unique perspectives to such a horrific situation. It’s fascinating to watch their strong relationships become strained out of pure fear. In many ways this is a psychological horror where strength is derived from facing that which frightens them most. This of course proves nearly impossible as Pennywise is fear incarnate.
He, IT is a force of pure evil hell bent on creating havoc and pain wherever IT goes. It’s ability to transform and contort into that which frightens each individual most is a story element that provides endless terrifying confrontations that leave the characters and the audience watching, petrified. This is the rare occasion when a horror film is legitimately scary and unnerving from start to finish. The characters known as The Losers are fleshed out and relatable making them important to us as the audience. We care and that is the most important ingredient in a successful horror film, making the characters salient as they face terrifyingly insurmountable odds. A scary clown is powerless if we can’t care about the victims it seeks out. These young children are flawed, funny, complicated and scared beyond belief and because of this their fates matter. This is why, (and many other reasons) IT is nothing short of phenomenal.
Films so heavily dependent on child performances such as this one are a major gamble that doesn’t always pay off but with IT, each child actor is absolutely exceptional. Bringing together their collective talents, they form a sort of R rated version of The Goonies and more recently Stranger Things. These are crass, inappropriate young people with a propensity for getting into shenanigans but when it matters most, their best selves shine through and they band together and triumph. Their chemistry is palpable and believable as they face the more relatable, confusing moments of adolescence and the more fantastical, horror fueled moments of terror as their fears come to literal life.
It has so much going for it from the performances to the script to the cinematography, every element of this film lends itself to the overall success of the film creating the perfect concoction of horror, comedy, coming of age moments that leave the audience with such content and a yearning to see what happens next. Even if you’re watching between your fingers, you have to find out what happens to these amazing characters.
Now let’s talk about the clown itself, Pennywise, played to perfection by Bill Skarsgård. He is a revelation as the child consuming hell clown and his performance is nothing short of award worthy (this is horror, no nominations here). From his gaunt walk to the high pitch of his childlike voice, to the endless vacancy of his dead eyed stare, Skarsgård is brilliant as Pennywise the Clown. Even when he isn’t on screen his presence is always felt and always feared. This is a masterful performance in the apparently revitalized horror genre. He will leave you in awe.
A theme throughout is loneliness; whether it’s having no friends or an unrequited love the idea of being alone is detrimental to these characters for many reasons. Most important to the story is being cut off and isolated from friends and being faced with their deepest, darkest fears and that emotion is a feed inducing pheromone that drives their main antagonist absolutely crazy with unrelenting hunger. It can’t be overlooked that Pennywise is not the only evil these kids face as bullies reign over them in many forms. From overly cautious parents to pedophilac fathers to psychotic small town, mullet wearing rednecks, these poor children are surrounded on all sides. It is their belief and loyalty to one another that creates their greatest weapon of defense against their foes. This is a town plagued in madness as death washes over it without mercy and without a care from its adult population. It is their fear that leaves them in a perpetual state of suspension leaving the kids to fight for themselves. Once again, abandonment and loneliness threaten to tear them apart and place them upon the plate of Pennywise for his never ending feast of children.
IT relies on being scary from multiple aspects like scary clowns and school bullies and odd behavior from the adults to things more conceivable like fear of germs or girls or their own parents that all come together seamlessly making for a charismatic, ghastly jaunt into hell in whatever form that may be. This is not for the faint of heart as lunacy fuels this story into a finale that is nothing short of amazingly chaotic and fearsome. Believe the hype, IT is a modern day horror masterpiece and I for one can’t wait to see it again. WE ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE.
Rated R For: violence/horror, bloody images, and for language
Runtime: 135 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Drama, Horror
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff
Directed By: Andy Muschietti
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL 5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Absolutely
Check out the trailer below:
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