Skip to main content

Review | IT




   I'm going to be honest and get this out of the way, I've never read a single Stephen King novel. E v e r. This is not to say horror isn't my thing, I just have never attempted to shift King up my reading list. Having said this, there is something ingrained with King's IT into popular culture, whether that be the mammoth size of the novel (a staggering 1,138 pages) or the more iconic image of Pennywise the clown, fabulously portrayed by Tim Curry in the 1990 mini series and this has always fascinated me. So, when I first saw the (record breaking) trailer for the Andy Muschetti-directed adaption, Warner Bros firmly held my attention and I couldn't wait to catch IT in cinemas. But does IT live up to the hype?

  For those who aren't familar with the novel or the mini series, IT follows a small group of kids living in Derry trying to uncover the mystery of why so many children are disappearing at an alarming rate. As time unfolds, the culprit points to a shape-shifting clown that is seemingly immortal and feeds off fear, and it falls to the self-styled Losers' Club to investigate.

   Muschetti beautifully delivers a film that meshes solid horror and suspense with crafted charm and romance. Every single member of the Losers' Club shines brightly within the film, each having their own amount of screen time to allow us access to who they are as a person, and, more importantly, what makes them scared. From Bill's harboured guilt toward the death of his younger brother to Beverly's fear of her abusive father (and puberty, shown in an extremely graphic scene that acts as a pretty unsubtle metaphor), Muschetti patiently explores the very idea of fear and that what we fear most, is fear itself. The term 'It' has connotations of something unknown or unexplainable, which again, is more terrifying that monsters or clowns (though the latter is pretty damn scary). We follow the kids being challenged by the fear that they think defines them, and how ultimately they have to learn to conquer that fear and live with it, rather than run from it.  From going down this emotional route, Muschetti explores a coming-of-age story that is very tender and beautiful, that harks back to not only King's Stand By Me, but other films and shows such as The Goonies, E.T, Stranger Things  and so much more. This is an authentic portrayal of transitioning from child to adult, they swear, make sexual references and struggle to cope with sudden shifts of emotion; this makes them feel like fully rounded characters. Each member is extremely likeable; you won't be able to stop yourself smiling from sheer charm. 




But Muschetti still understands that this is a horror film. Not only do we have Bill Skarsgård's Pennywise, carefully skirting around the edges of the film, used sparingly in the right moments but not without over-killing it, we also have the menacing presence of the adults. Adults are interestingly distant in Derry, they loom in the shadows casting eyes over the kids as if they too, are the monsters. Which brings back to the fear of the 'unknown', adults in this film have the potential to be as dangerous as Pennywise; therefore this makes the kids fully isolated as a group, which only makes you root for them even more. You also have the sociopath Henry Bowers, who seeks enjoyment in torturing the Losers' Club, both mentally and physically. Frustratingly, his descent into full blown madness and thirst for blood is never really explained or shown on screen, it feels a little glossed over but he still makes a chilling antagonist for the gang.

   What of Pennywise himself? Skarsgård fully immerses himself within the role of the child-eating clown, camping it up gleefully whilst being deeply disturbing. His make-up and scruffy Victorian attire combined with a clever dose of CGI immediately catch the eye, but it's the subtle nuances that truly make him stand out such as a trickle of drool that hangs from his mouth or his distorted body cracking into place. Clearly Stranger Things has been a HUGE influence on the film, which is not to say it's a detriment, but the similarity of Pennywise to the monster in Stranger Things was pretty much like for like. Too much of Pennywise and you spoil the film, not enough and you leave the theatre frustrated, as he is the signature piece of the puzzle and who you've paid the price of admission for. Even when he's not on screen, his presence has undeniably been made. Luckily Muschetti gets the balance just right, giving you a Pennywise that makes a memorable impression and will haunt the nightmares of many for the forseeable future. 

   All of Pennywise's scares are hugely improved thanks to composer Benjamin Wallfisch's hauntingly intense score. Though most scenes pay homage to the traditional jump-scare trope, the Pyscho-esque strings really intensify the moment, making the scares extremely well executed and extraordinary claustrophobic. Combined with Muschetti's direction, the score does a brilliant job of immersing the viewer into every single scene, even if some 'scares' feel a little cliched.  


  Part supernatural horror, part romantic coming-of-age drama, IT is one of the best Stephen King adaptations in recent years that combines the power to scare with evoking the tumultuous emotions of childhood angst. A delightfully disturbing treat.


⋆⋆⋆⋆

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Not To Be A Boy - Robert Webb

"What are we saying to a boy when we tell him to 'man up' or 'act like a man'? More often we're effectively saying, 'Stop expressing those feelings.' And if the boy hears that often enough, it actually starts to sound uncannily like, 'Stop feeling those feelings.'"

Herein lies the main issue that surrounds Robert Webb's new book How Not To Be A Boy, the idea of how much damage that can be inflicted on to young boys when they are encouraged to behave in ways that supposedly befit their gender. But Webb interweaves this idea tenderly with an autobiographical tale of him growing up in 1970s Lincolnshire with a working class woodcutter for a father and a mother who was tragically taken from him when he was just seventeen. 

   Webb frankly admits how he never really felt like much of a 'boy', taking a dislike for sport, writing a diary, having sticky-out ribs and liking poetry. He is told how he is 'sensitive' and 'shy'…

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

"I suddenly realise it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that we age differently. It doesn't matter that there is no way of resisting the laws of time. The time ahead of you is the like the land beyond the ice. You can guess what it could be like but you can never know. All you know is the moment you are in."

Imagine, for a second, that you were different to everyone else. To others, you may seem like a rather ordinary forty year old, but the reality is you're closer to four hundred and ninety. This is the problem of Tom Hazard, the protagonist of Matt Haig's incredible new novel How to Stop Time. Tom suffers from a rare condition that has caused him to be alive for centuries, ageing one physical year every fifteen years. Always on the move to avoid suspicion, Tom now works in a secondary school as a history teacher, but the one rule he is told never to break keeps making itself known; never fall in love. 

  The joyous quality with Matt Haig is that he trul…

The Power - Naomi Alderman

"Jews: look to Miriam, not Moses, for what you can learn from her. Muslims: look to Fatimah, not Muhammad. Buddhists, remember Tara, the mother of liberation. Christians: pray to Mary for your salvation." It is through these haunting words that Naomi Alderman creates a novel so bold and so daring in order to show us how the present structures of society need a change, and offers us a glimpse of what would happen if you flipped the gender roles in which women rule the world. What would then happen if men lived in fear of women?

The Power begins as teenage girls over the world discover they can release electrical jolts from their fingertips, ranging from a slight tickle to the ability to kill. Men are segregated for their own safety, countries verge on war on a day-to-day basis as more girls harness this 'power' and use it to awaken it in older women. As this all unfolds, the story weaves between four narrative voices: Roxy, daughter of a London mobster, Allie, a teenag…