‘IT’ awakens, making audiences laugh more than scream

Director Andy Muschietti awakens "IT" after 27 years asleep in the sewers, hungry for flesh and fear. (Courtesy of New Line Cinema)

Director Andy Muschietti awakens “IT” after 27 years asleep in the sewers, hungry for flesh and fear. (Courtesy of New Line Cinema)

Clowns suck. It has never been a great idea to wear strange makeup and show up to parties acting extremely creepy, yet we still make movies about them. They are things of nightmares, chasing us down endless tunnels in one of its many forms. Coasting off the most recent clown epidemic of 2016, “IT” returns after its 27 year slumber in the sewers of the fictional town of Derry, Maine, and for the rest of the world, probably should have stayed down there. Director Andrés Muschietti went overboard in his adaptation to the thriller, over animating and downright making a joke of the notorious Pennywise.

Bill Denbrough (Jaedon Lieberher) is on the search for his little brother Georgie (Jackson Scott) after his mysterious disappearance while sailing his paper boat too close to the storm drain. It’s also no help that Bill’s friend group, the “losers club,” is being harassed by the town’s bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). After realizing the group is facing a common problem, a psychotic clown terrorizing the town’s children, the gang decides to put an end to the horror, once and for all.

The new cast has done this franchise justice, one of the main reasons to give this movie a shot. The stuttering performance by Jaedon Lieberher brought his emotions and surpassed the screen and into the hearts of all. His monologue in front of the well house brought tears to the eyes, making you want to go kill the damn clown yourself. Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier) and Jack Grazer’s (Eddie Kaspbrak) screen time made the movie that more enjoyable with comic relief in the midst of danger and death. Without their quarrels and over hygienic habits, this movie would have crashed like an undersized clown car. The script was modernized from 1990s middle school language to, in reality, how kids talk when their parents aren’t around. It’s refreshing that writers know how to adapt to the times, bringing some reality to the screen.

On the other hand, who could forget about the most feared clowns, Pennywise? Bill Skarsgård did a decent job in a few scenes that made you gasp, but for the most part, he was just okay. It seemed he went for the more “just got out of the mental hospital clown” than a well articulated killer. There was no sick humor from Skarsgård, which is very disappointing considering clowns are twisted in a sense. The digital effects added to Pennywise himself seemed a bit too much, killing key scenes that made “IT” the flick to show at sleepovers. It is hard to not compare his performance with Tim Curry, the king of killer clowns, but Skarsgård brings his own touch to the character, slightly refreshing, but at no point scary.

The most frightening aspect of “IT” is brought to you by the devil himself, Henry Bower. Nicholas Hamilton’s portrayal of Bower is what middle school nightmares are made of, the very reason we need anti-bullying assemblies in schools. Bower’s cold blooded ways stem from a rash father-son relationship, but Bower proves to be the victor. It is very apparent that he loses himself when Pennywise gives him the tool he needs to accomplish his dark and twisted wishes, sending viewers to the back of their seats. Plus, he has a mullet. What’s not to hate about this kid?

The clear fact is that the setting was so thought out it gives this industry hope that someone actually cares. By the time the audience is well acquainted with each character, we have a good handle on what Derry is like: old school morals with a hidden fear in everyone’s hearts. Every interaction between the children and Pennywise is unique in its own way. The use of over-the-shoulder shots gives a point-of-view like no other. Innocent home schooled Mike is not only held to the ground and viciously beat, but watched as Pennywise lurks in the  background, eating what looks like a child’s arm, sending chills down the spine. Not to mention that the film’s music was a mix of classic horror by Benjamin Wallfisch, but also some modern punk and very subtle synthesized pieces here and there.

“IT” makes you cringe, cry, laugh but not scream. This film hits the head on the mark for a viewer friendly thriller, but when it’s sister film was the reason for clown phobias, it falls short. “IT: Chapter Two” returns in 2019, but don’t get too excited in the event of a repeat performance. We should have left Pennywise in the distant memory of 1990, one that possessed the it factor that all know and fear.

 

 

 

 

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