By Brennan Atkins & Noah Barnes
In 1990, audiences were treated to a mini-series by ABC called “It,” directed by Tommy Lee Wallace. This was a live-action adaptation of Stephen King’s acclaimed novel. It is the story of a murderous clown creature called Pennywise that attacks children every 27 years in the town of Derry, Maine. This mini-series received mixed reviews, and yet, to this day, has a cult following.
Twenty-seven years later, audiences are met with Pennywise once again in a feature-length studio film, which was released on Sept. 8.
“It” was directed by Andrés Muschietti, a somewhat-unknown director who intrigued viewers with a brilliant cast of up-and-coming child actors, terrifying imagery and a surprisingly fun movie experience overall.
The characters in “It” are some of the most relatable in recent years when it comes to the modern horror genre. While the teenage spirit is very hard to capture in film, “It” delivers that perfectly. The kids all have very different personalities, but still manage to come together as friends. The characters aren’t confined to childhood – they all grow as people and it’s difficult not to empathize. Child actors are scarce, which makes it all the more amazing when you include eight phenomenal performances from these kids.
Pennywise is played by the 26-year old Swedish actor, Bill Skarsgård, succeedingTim Curry who played him in the mini-series. When Curry took on the role, he came off as a bit silly, which took away from the horror aspect. In this iteration, Skarsgård delivers a more demonic take on Pennywise. Skarsgård is utterly unrecognizable under all the makeup, which makes him seem like his own character rather than an actor playing him. The laugh, movements and sheer look of the character are downright bizarre in the best way possible. He takes the victim’s worst fears and turns them into a realities – a simple yet effective method of delivering a child’s nightmare on the big screen.
One of the many crowning achievements in the movie is its aesthetic, which is pulled off so effortlessly that it feels as if you are actually watching a movie from the ’80s. There are many editing tricks from the ’80s that are used in this film. In other modern films, it would come off as cheesy, but here it’s perfectly natural and fits the film’s vibe. The film gets away with having some genuinely fun-filled scenes – a nice contrast from other modern horror films.
Admittedly, scary is not the first word that may come to mind – unsettling or creepy would be more fitting. But this doesn’t detract from the experience.
However, it does have a couple of shortcomings, such as the overuse of jump scares. It feels they were just added as they’re a popular trope of the genre this decade, and the movie’s flow would be much better off without them.
Overall, “It” is a great movie if you are tired of the recent horror genre trends that often come off as cash grabs. From its characters to the atmosphere, this film delivers a little bit for everybody. This movie has artistic value – something the horror genre needs a lot more of. “It” has heart, which is a breath of fresh air from the recent entries in the horror industry.
[Editor’s Note: Brennan Atkins and Noah Barnes are “The Couch Boys,” two friends who watch and review films together. ]