Movie Review: IT Delivers a Clown that Terrifies, Kids that Entertain


Sarah Nicholson | Staff Writer

Expectation is a funny thing. When you have it, IT disappoints, but if you don’t then IT amazes. That’s been my experience anyway. Stephen King’s IT recently released nearly twenty years after Tim Curry graced the small screen as everyone’s favorite terrifying circus performer. This time Bill Skarsgard took up the mantle of Pennywise and the effect was chilling.

I should say that I have not read the novel that inspired the film, nor have I seen the original Tim Curry adaptation. I went into this movie blind. I knew it featured a clown and as they don’t creep me out, I wasn’t expecting much at all. I think that maybe what made it so much fun. I don’t jump a lot at horror films, but this one caught me a few times. There was something genuinely sinister and supernatural about Skarsgard that really brought Pennywise to life. If you’ve seen the posters you may have thought, as I did that he looked cartoonish or exaggerated? Perhaps too polished compared to Curry’s rougher clown make-up of the nineties. Whatever the criticism I suggest you persevere and check IT out for yourself. At worst, you’ll think it’s alright and at best, you’ll join the ever-growing number of people who find clowns terrifying.

So that’s the obvious pitch, the clown is terrifying, go watch it…but let’s really get into it. The brilliant thing about Stephen King’s work is he connects with us on personal level. In this case it was all about the kids in this movie and I LOVED who they chose for casting. Sophia Lillis is amazing as Beverly. It would be easy to make her nothing more than a victim, but she stands out not simply for being the only girl but for being compelling as hell, she’s a fighter and you want to fight with her. Jeremy Taylor, who plays Ben, also steps up the game. He isn’t loud or overreaching in his role but traverses all the entanglements of being the ‘fat kid’ growing up brilliantly. You care about his character almost more than the lead, which is impressive because Jaeden Lieberher does a solid job portraying a grieving brother as Bill.

It’s not common to laugh as much as you jump in a horror movie unless you’re satisfying a Wes Craven craving. We’re all guilty of it, I watched Scream in high school. No judgement. Campy spoof movies notwithstanding, though, IT delivered beautifully in terms of comedy and all the credit goes to the kids delivering the lines. Finn Wolfhard plays Richie, you might have seen him in Stranger Things, and wow what a mouth. I haven’t heard anyone come up with that many creative swear words in a long time, it’s admirable, really. Two things make swearing worth it in a movie, emotion and pop on delivery. You miss this and you’re sunk. Thankfully, Wolfhard was batting about ninety-eight percent. This balance with the tense and terrifying sequences make the movie the ultimate good time in terms of horror viewing.

I know technically, children swearing is bad, but IT has a yesteryear feel that just makes it perfect. Audiences don’t get clean cut childhoods with unfortunate circumstances. Instead it shows every adolescent and even adult hardship and scar these kids face. In many ways, Pennywise is the least of their problems and that is what makes it so brilliant. It’s a real story, about real people and the fact that director Andy Muschietti saw the wisdom in keeping these gruesome, true, scenes made it all the more worth watching. He was smarter still by not rushing the story, which means that it should come as little surprise that they have been green lit for a second installment, that will feature the kids as grown-ups. As for my take away, well if you haven’t guessed, I went in as an indifferent audience member and now can’t wait for the next chapter.