2017. Directed by Andy Muschetti.
By Brian Wallinger
After almost thirty years since the release of the original two part mini series based on Stephen King's widely popular novel, I found the re-imagining's first half to be effective yet equally underwhelming and I personally hold the over use of marketing responsible. IT is something that is very complex and intricate by nature. It is a very heavy handed, hard hitting story about the fears and anxieties of life. It's also about a supernatural entity that takes the shape of a clown and eats children.
This time around, taking the torch from legendary character actor Tim Curry, actor BIll Skarsgard makes his performance as Pennywise his own. Sadly I didn't feel the slightest shred of fear and my attention was on the screen start to finish. It's just that the scares were obvious and rather more unintentionally humorous. With the exception of some mildly disturbing images and some slight scares sprinkled throughout, it was more on the flat end.
The true strength of this film comes from its core cast executing a rare, delicate, and vulnerable chemistry that is beyond relatable and generates empathy without a manipulated cliche presence. The highlighted performances being Skarsgard, as well as new comer Sophia Lillis as the only female character in the "Losers Club", and Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard.
It was the moments without the clown where the film impacted me most; moments where the kids just got to be kids and have fun. For example, there is a great scene involving nothing more then jumping off of a cliff on a hot summer day; a moment where nothing matters. A feeling I myself have long since forgotten. Aside from that, the film does boast a strong and confident production value. Serving as director, Andy Muschietti, previously known for the horror film Mama, articulates an idea of IT closer to the novel than the original mini series by becoming more detailed and defined. The cinematography and score are also worthy of praise.
To me , in the end, IT is a very candid retelling that sadly works more effectively as a drama about struggling adolescence rather than a straight horror film. Books are what have made so many films possible, but if you take on something as hauntingly poetic such as IT, don't be afraid to go all in. Hopefully, Part 2 proves to be more effective in that way, and hopefully we find out sooner rather then later that the sequel wont become clouded and rushed for the sake of financial return much like the first half.