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Stephen King's IT Review: More Than A Simple Fright Fest

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Before the first scene of IT is even shown, you hear the disturbing chuckle of a young child.  

 

It’s safe to say that sets the tone for what roughly ensues over the next two hours.

 

Based on the adaptation of the popular Stephen King novel, the widely anticipated film is the initial installment of a planned duology. However, if you’re expecting a full-on, straight-ahead creepshow with IT, you’re in for a surprise.photo: teaser-trailer.com

 

It’s the summer of 1989, and various children have recently disappeared from the town of Derry, Maine at the hands of Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard)—a seemingly immortal entity from another dimension who takes on various identities of the people he torments. Pennywise, who rears its ugly head about every thirty years, is responsible for the disappearance of Georgie Denbrough, who vanished the previous fall.

 

Meanwhile, his older brother, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), determined to find out Georgie’s true fate, is the leader of "The Losers Club," a group of outsiders who are terrorized at school by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and the Bowers Gang.

 

During the course of the summer, several moments strengthen the bond between Bill and his friends. Early on, they come across a beaten and wounded Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and befriend fellow outcast Beverly (Sophia Lillis) while tending to Ben’s injuries. After later saving Mike (Hawaii Five-O’s Chosen Willis) from a near-fatal beatdown at the hands of Bowers and his thugs, the group becomes more determined than ever to confront Pennywise and find out why so many are disappearing from Derry with only small traces of their whereabouts.

 

Unfortunately, the group all eventually fall victim to the wrath of Pennywise in some capacity. In the process, they are all forced to confront their greatest fears, and try not to let IT destroy their friendships in the group and fracture their unit as a result.

 

It’s not hard to notice the similarities between IT and the hit series Stranger Things, and not just because of the casting of Finn Wolfhard as the wise cracking Richie Tozier. Although the kids from IT are slightly older than the bike riding Netflix crew, both groups are outcasts from a small town who bond together for a common cause: the disappearance of someone close to them at the hands of the supernatural.

 

By the end of the film, the jump scares of IT become a little monotonous. Furthermore, some might think the consistent humor results in a lack of edginess. As a whole, it’s more creepy than actually scary, but through it all, IT still manages to forge an identity of its own. Thoughtful and too well-crafted to fall into stereotypical horror film genre, it’s wonderfully directed by Andy Muschietti. Every young actor is likeable and performed their roles brilliantly, and the chilling performance of Skarsgard as Pennywise is arguably on par and equally as sinister as Tim Curry’s portrayal in the 1990 miniseries.


IT can be seen in many cities on Thursday, September 7th. It’s rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and language.

 

 

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

 

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Photo: teaser-trailer.com

 

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