IT (2017) is directed by Andy Muschietti (who also directed Mama in 2013), and stars Bill Skarsgård as the evil shapeshifting creature Pennywise The Clown who terrorizes the small town of Derry every 27 years. Skarsgård had a lot to live up to regarding Tim Curry’s iconic performance as the clown in the 1990 miniseries, but certainly made the role his own by providing a unique take on the creature. The Swedish actor portrayed Pennywise the way he was written in the original Stephen King novel, animalistic and desperate, which provides a more disturbing Pennywise and very intense scenes when on-screen.
With such a strong performance from Skarsgård, you would need an equally strong performance from the gang of kids who decide to defeat the clown’s murder spree. The child actors more than match Skarsgård’s performance; they command every second of the screen and bring heart to all of the horror. Notable examples are Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, and Sophia Lillis as the only girl in the group, Beverly Marsh. Every kid gives it their all, and none falter, but the ones with the least to do, like Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, leave the least impact. Throughout the film it is delightful to watch the self-named group of “Losers” interact with one another and grow together, which makes it even more terrifying to see them constantly in danger.
While Skarsgård’s Pennywise is absolutely terrifying, the film falters in intensity during the last act. What made Pennywise so frightening was his ability to morph into anyone’s worst fear, no matter how grotesque or disturbing. Of course the clown couldn’t be invincible, so when the Losers figure this out, the danger of Pennywise crumbles and so do the stakes. The stakes pretty much disappearing is a small flaw in an overall great movie which is easy to forgive when there is so much to love.
In some cases, IT could be called more heartwarming than scary. Although some might find the heartwarming third act a flaw in a movie about a child-eating clown, it certainly made for a more emotional and fulfilling experience. The main reason for this is the rich story of the group of kids, or “The Losers’ Club”. Each one has their own emotional arc, which never felt cliched or cutesy. The realistic interpretation of the characters goes a long way in making them more relatable and makes it easy for the audience to root for them, whereas other movies’ interpretation of children makes the audience root against them
Overall, the film is a gem in a summer that has been more than lackluster at the movies. IT may provide more laughs than scares, but the two are both abundant and high in quality. Filled with strong character display and outstanding directing, IT (2017) outdoes its 1990 predecessor and leaves audiences anxiously awaiting to return to Derry in 2019.