I do not want to float too, thank you very much.
After 27 years, Stephen King’s IT has made a return to the big screen. I genuinely cannot remember the last time that I was terrified by a film, and the early trailers had an allure to it, so much so that I wanted to actually be terrified by it.
And I come into IT with a relatively fresh approach, as I have no attachment to the original, nor do I have an attachment to the book, so I was kind of excited to see how menacing Pennywise the clown is. What I anticipated was a creepy, thrilling ride of a film, but not something that physically got under my skin.
So much so, there was a point where I shuddered around halfway through the film, without anything menacing happening on screen.
During a rainy afternoon in 1988, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) begins his reign of terror on the children of Derry by appearing in a drain and talking to Georgie, (Jackson Robert Scott) offering him a balloon. And it’s the immediate creepiness of Pennywise that comes from the screen, as he drools whilst talking to Georgie, claiming he’ll float too. But the creepiest aspect is the glowing yellow eyes as they slowly jut out in different directions as it leaves a lasting imprint. (which is still sending shivers down my spine)
What I did not anticipate, was the immediate turn that It took with this scene. And that was the opening ten minutes. Fast-forward to the end of the school year in 1989, where Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and his friends are bullied by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) about his stutter, but also his missing brother.
What IT does, is cleverly sets up the outcasts instantly in the film, through their own stories. Although Bill is the focal point of The Losers Club, each friend has ample time for his or her own backstory as they find themselves on the cusp of adulthood.
Through their own time on screen, they each encounter It and it’s mysterious yellow eyes. And in each encounter, with Ben, Stan and Mike, the effects on show are just incredible but equally terrifying. And this is where the narrative picks up the pace, as with each encounter, more is revealed about the friends, but also Pennywise himself.
I am normally okay with jump scares and usually can spot the cues, but It was a whole different kettle of fish. The cues were perfectly timed and nothing what I had anticipated. Usually I am okay with clowns, but after the showing, I’m not entirely sure I will be.
But what Andy Muschietti managed to capture was an authentic feel for childhood at this age, especially as the boys cycle round Derry helping Bill investigate the disappearance of his brother. And through Henry Bowers constant terrorising of anyone smaller than him, the friends welcome Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Bev Marsh (Sophia Lillis) into their group.
I was completely gripped with this film throughout the entirety. The narrative flow of It was superb and hit every mark, and lingered where it needed to for the perfect amount of time. Whether it is a faithful adaptation of the Stephen King novel, I wouldn’t know, but I want to actively see the original and read the book due to the enjoyment from Muschietti’s reimagining of this legendary character.
The construct of Pennywise as a character was insanely brilliant, and I was 100% creeped out by the dancing clown. Obviously this comes down to the shift and a half put in by Bill Skarsgard. But the terrifying clown is only amplified by the believable performances from ‘The Losers Club’. As I mentioned the effects on show are incredible, but the ability to manifest the fears of the friends and make them become entities was enticing throughout the film. But it all comes back to the creepiness of Pennywise. The simple effect of having a red balloon float through the library was enough to send shudders down my spine.
It really had the ability to get under my skin and it was glorious. As I mentioned, I cannot remember the last time I was terrified by a film, but I do now. I’m not usually a fan of horrors, but if they were more like this, I imagine I would be. Having been completed mesmerised by the performances and the film as a whole, I can wholeheartedly say, I am excited for Chapter 2.