Release Year: 2017
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Chase Palmer (screenplay), Cary Fukunaga (screenplay), Gary Dauberman (screenplay), Stephen King (based on his 1986 novel It)
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sims, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Jackson Robert Scott, Stephen Bogaert, Stuart Hughes
A group of bullied kids band together when a shape shifting evil force taking the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård) returns from hibernation to feed on the local children.
Stephen King has created many iconic characters and villains to the horror genre over the years, and they in turn have been brought to audiences through many adaptations of varying quality. There is little doubt that the most iconic is Pennywise the Dancing Clown from his terrifying epic 1986 horror novel, It. This evil force that takes the shape of your worst nightmare and feeds on children’s fears as well as their flesh has already been brought to great life by Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975) in 1990 TV minseries, but the quality of the series apart from Curry is lamentable. Now It finally has a big screen adaptation that is not only a great adaptation but a great film as well. Director Andy Muschietti (Mama, 2013) and the screenwriters have delivered a fun, terrifying, moving, and entertaining film that demonstrates great understanding of its source material. Any King fan will tell you that what he does best is create characters whose well-being you care about and then place them in terrifying situations. The Losers Club is one such group of great characters; Derry kids all brought together by being outsiders and being aware of the dangers of their hometown that the grown-ups seemingly ignore. The central kid is Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) who search for his lost brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) set the kids on the trail of Pennywise. The actors playing the kids are all great and the banter between them is fun and works like a charm. Great also is Nicholas Hamilton (Captain Fantastic, 2016) as the bully Henry Bowers. However, the central and ever-present character is the eponymous It, and Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård (Atomic Blonde, 2017) manages to make the character his own. We see new sides to Pennywise, he shows us many shades of creepy, and the performance never feels like a rip-off. Together with a completely different yet classic clown costume, Skarsgård’s performance manages to outshine Curry, and that is no mean feat. With a running time of 2 hours 15 minutes the film is long but never feels it, there is so much to look at, so many Easter eggs for King fans, and moments of great horror and comedy and seamlessly replace each other from start to finish. However, do not expect horror that will give you nightmares for weeks, this is about the fears of our beloved Loser’s Club, not about yours, and the kids are so good that they should have you onboard from the very start. A Stephen King adaptation that is up there with some of the best and that is no small praise. Highly recommended, a must-see for King fans.
Bill Skarsgård was the fourth actor to be offered the role. Early in the production, Tim Curry was offered to reprise the role but turned it down. Ben Mendelsohn was then offered the part and was interested but could not agree with the studio on his salary. The role was then offered to Will Poulter who accepted but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts after production delays set the film back a year. In the end, Skarsgård beat Hugo Weaving, who was considered, but could not deliver the same childish playfulness to the character as Skarsgård.
Picture Copyright: Warner Bros.