Friday, September 8, 2017 marks the official U.S. theatrical release of IT – the first true film adaptation of author Stephen King‘s celebrated 1986 horror novel of the same name and semi-remake of the subsequent 1990 TV miniseries. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening on September 6, 2017, courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
As all longtime Stephen King and IT fans already know, Pennywise always comes back every 27 years to terrorize children, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that exactly 27 years after the 1990 made-for-TV miniseries made its mark on the world, creating a record number of clown-fearing folk, IT has returned in 2017.
Set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine (a place King often uses for stories) a quaint, picturesque New England village where, on the surface, seemingly nothing ever happens, but just underneath lies a very dark past and more than a few very strange occurences, IT follows the story of “The Losers Club” – a group of teenage friends who have bonded over their own social struggles. Each of these misfit youths have endured their own tragedies; from Bill’s loss of his younger brother Georgie, and Bev’s sexual abuse and undue reptuation, to Mike losing his parents in a fire, Eddie’s Munchausen Syndrome, and Ben’s bullying due to being overweight.
Despite this, the group manages to hold onto most of their innocence and just be kids – and all set out to spend their summer vacation helping Bill look for his missing brother – even though everyone in town, including Bill’s parents, have already given up the search and presumed him dead. But Bill’s brother isn’t the only child that’s come up missing, as several Derry youths seem to have disappeared in a shockingly short time, and as the “Losers Club” learns more about the dark history of Derry, they’re also haunted by horrifying visions brought to you by the evil entity known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. As the young friends draw closer and closer to the truth, they must all face their darkest dears in the most literal sense and ultimately come face to face with the greatest evil their small corner of Maine has ever seen. What happens with it all? You’ll just have to go watch it and see for yourselves!
Bill Skarsgård‘s chilling performance as Pennywise is nothing short of outstanding, as he continuously torments and stalks the children, and just oozes pure evil for every second he’s on screen. Even during the moments of keeping with the dark, campy humor that the legendary Tim Curry brought to the character in the 1990 version, Skarsgård manages to bring an entirely new level of evil to it all – never breaking the horror. What’s perhaps most impressive is while both Curry in 1990 and Skarsgård in 2017 accurately portrayed the exact same character, their performances weren’t anything like each other’s. Skarsgård didn’t copy Curry once, bringing an entirely new interpretation of the Pennywise character, while still managing to completely fit the role. Furthermore, the entire cast of young actors portraying the “Losers Club” all did an absolutely stellar job, channeling the iconic Stand By Me with how genuine, sincere, believable, and flawless their performances were, despite their young ages.
Throw in plenty of excellent camera-work, great sound, and excellent effects – as one should absolutely expect from anything hitting the big screen – and you’ve got an expetionally good horror film that’s well worth going to see.
Also worth noting is that in the 2017 film version of IT is only Part One of the original two-part story and TV mini-series. Part Two is absolutely coming as well, but you’re going to have wait for it – at the very least for another year, if not longer. So please don’t go into this thinking you’re going to get the whole story all at once, but do know that the half you do get is absolutely worth the price of admission.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, IT is about as good of a horror remake as you’re ever going to get. The (hard) R rating really helps the story, without hurting it, and the expertly-crafted combination of the familiar story and fresh interpretations really make for a very enjoyable, entertaining horror film just in time for the start of the fall that fans old and new alike can appreciate. The 1980s setting is exceptionally well-done, the cast is absolutely fantastic, the storytelling and pacing are very good, and the scares, thrills, and chills are plentiful. If you like horror movies, if you like clowns, or especially if you hate clowns, do yourself a favor and go see this one. You’ll be glad you did. – 9.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine