IT starts out in the town of Derry, Maine during a heavy rain storm. Little Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott) is chasing his toy boat, made by his big brother Bill, as it floats down the street at top speed until it ultimately finds a storm drain to disappear into. As Georgie leans into the drain to find his boat, he instead discovers a clown. If you have read the book or seen the 1990 miniseries, you know where this leads, only this time you actually see what happens to poor Georgie and they do NOT hold back on the blood.
A year later, Georgie’s big brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) has not given up searching for his missing little brother. Despite Bill and his friends having all had violent and terrifying experiences with the demon better known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård), he still believes his brother is alive and stuck down in the sewer. Together with his friends Ritchie (Finn Wolfhard), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), Bill is determined to defeat the clown and rescue his brother.
As I am sure the nitpickers are wondering, no, it isn’t exactly like the book. Certain things have been changed and omitted for time. You certainly cannot expect a 1200 page book to be perfectly transferred into a film unless you have “Gone With the Wind on cable TV with commercials” time on your hands, and that would just be for the first half of the story. I can completely understand why specific things were changed and/or left out. Let’s face it, a lot of the book was filler anyway. Personally, I was glad the racist remarks were left out, Ritchie was toned down quite a bit and that specific sex scene (you know the one) was replaced with a simple kiss. Anything that was changed, was changed thoughtfully to stay true to the story and characters.
The character development was impressive considering the amount of story that needed to take place in the two hour time frame. Certain characters were given more spotlight than others, but, again, it was done with a purpose.
While all of the actors were great in their roles, in my personal opinion, the stars of the film were certainly Jaeden Lieberher and Sophia Lillis, but Jack Dylan Grazer played an excellent neurotic Eddie. My personal favorite was Ritchie, who was my least favorite in the book. I’ll admit that I was skeptical of Finn Wolfgard playing Ritchie after seeing him play Mike in Stranger Things, as I would’ve pegged him as more of an Eddie, but he was actually pretty hilarious. As I said before, they toned him down quite a bit so that he was less annoying and more comic relief. It made a lot more sense in the film that Ritchie had friends because I couldn’t understand how he did in the book.
Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise was an amazing casting choice. The facial expressions he makes almost make you forget that half the time he is CGI. There is this one specific scene where he is dancing like a total idiot, but he maintains this terrifying glare the entire time. It’s a scene that should’ve been completely ridiculous, but it was made scary by his facial expression alone. He is consistent throughout, never losing that horrifying smile, even when he is gnawing on a severed hand.
In terms of scares, there were some decent ones, mostly jump scares, but they weren’t rushed or even short-lived. While Pennywise would come out of nowhere, he stuck around to stretch that fear out with his horrifying mouth of razor sharp teeth, his long clawed fingers or just with that awful makeup caked face. Anyone with even the smallest fear of clowns will just hate him with a passion.
Overall, IT was very entertaining and a great tribute to an amazing book by an amazing author. If fans can get themselves past their love for the mini-series, I think they might find that this is the film the fans deserved.
Rating: 8 out of 10