By Thomas Griffiths

 

It was directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer and Nicholas Hamilton. This film surrounds a group of teenagers in Derry, Maine, who are terrorised by a powerful and terrifying being known only as It (or Pennywise the Dancing Clown). The film is based on the bestselling novel by Stephen King, whom I am a huge fan of.

The tone of this film goes in several directions at certain points in the film, but shockingly I didn’t consider that to be a negative at all – having read the book, I knew there were several scenes and sequences in the story where you either had to be scared, sad, or happy, and this was reflected perfectly in the film – don’t get me wrong, there are some scenes in this film that knocked me flat because they were so scary and so disturbing, but there were also scenes that took place entirely between the human characters that I found very heartfelt, very interesting and, most importantly, very necessary for the progress of such characters. I thought that the character moments actually added something to the film, so that by the climax of it you cared a whole lot more about these kids than before.

As far as the performances of the teenage characters in this film go, I actually thought that they were brilliant all around – every kid was distinctive in his or her own way and the actors (whom I am mostly unfamiliar with) did excellent jobs at portraying their personalities, especially their fears and insecurities. Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh was excellent in this film, from the opening scene of her character – I cared about her, and gravitated towards her situation and, most significantly, she fitted in well with the male protagonists. Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris also did a good job, making him an entertaining and understandable character without being too annoying. Finn Wolfhard as Eddie Kaspbrak was on-and-off for me at first, and I feared that he would be the black spot of the film, but eventually I thought he did a great job. However, out of all the Losers Club, my favourite performance of them is Jaden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough. This kid was brilliant in this film: essentially, he is the main protagonist of this story since it is his grievance and his pain that drives the Losers into facing off with It, and throughout the whole film this actor was absolutely incredible.

Bill Skarsgård portrays the character of It in this film, and I was extremely curious to see what this man would bring to the character, because I had watched Tim Curry’s enjoyably bombastic portrayal of It and wondered if anything would be done differently. When I watched the film, and I saw him appear for the first time and saw Skarsgård play It, I was mesmerised: Skarsgård was truly excellent as It, and he brought a lot of unpredictability and scariness to the character, making him seem like a genuinely dangerous and threatening creature (which was, in my opinion, a necessity for the story). Having read the books I had already been scared by the character, but in this film I was unsettled very deeply whenever It was featured on the screen in this film, which is a testament to Skarsgård’s performance, the direction and the atmosphere that had been so beautifully created. They did some amazing things with the look of the creature, and the things It was capable of doing, that led to some stunning scenes throughout the film. Skarsgård himself (or maybe the special effects team, I have no idea) also did some clever things with the mannerisms of It, making it unique and especially inhuman.

Where the film could have faltered was with the character of Henry Bowers, played brilliantly by Nicholas Hamilton, and how he torments the Losers. Hamilton was very menacing as the character, but sometimes he just seemed like a total side-character, but in a way he served one of the characters’ main purposes in the story – to drive the Losers together and be an asset to their battle with It. Eventually, when Henry Bowers’ combat with the Losers becomes more and more out of control, and we learn that Henry has also been corrupted by It (which was also featured in the book, and is translated well to the film) Henry becomes even more dangerous and frightening since he is utilised by It to try and kill the Losers. Therefore, this character maintained the same amount of relevance as he did in the original book, and I thought that he was well utilised in the story.

The finale of this film, and the way the progression of the story culminates in this finale, is extremely exciting. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole thing, and eventually the actual battle between It and the Losers conveys its own message that makes the film almost a coming-of-age story, which I thought was very cleverly done. There are scenes from the book that are omitted from the film – for example, certain dialogue scenes involving It that I was looking forward to (for example, some small dialogue in the opening scene, and if you’ve read the book or seen the original miniseries you know what I’m talking about). There was one scene in particular at the end of the film where a scene from the book was omitted, almost wisely in my opinion (if you’ve read the book like I have, you again know what I’m talking about). The climax of the film does also deviate from the book in certain ways, but it didn’t bother me because the film was great all the same. The ending of this film was still very enjoyable, and I’m actually excited to see what they do next with the sequel.

I really enjoyed this film, and thought it was an exceptionally faithful adaption of Stephen King’s novel. I would recommend this to fans of the novel, the 1990 miniseries or horror films in general.

Rating: 5/5

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