It Review – A Chilling Adaptation of Stephen King’s Classic Novel
Bill Skarsgard Terrifies In Modern Adaptation of Stephen King’s It
Many horror films fall victim to the tropes of the genre, there have been so many ghost stories, haunted houses or possessed children that it can all become too predictable. While It doesn’t escape all of these genre tropes it does offer terror on its visuals alone – namely a horrifying, demonic clown named Pennywise. It’s also admirable that this adaptation is strengthened by the characters, plot and writing which elevates It beyond other horror films delivering on the often celebrated novel by Stephen King.
The film wastes no time in introducing Pennywise, a sinister looking clown with a penchant for kidnapping children. One runaway boat early on is enough for Georgie to encounter the demonic killer and what follows is a terrifying introduction. The disappearance of his younger brother never really leaves older brother Bill and as mysterious disappearances begin to happen at their school and as Pennywise begins to haunt the children with their greatest fears the children decide to find and kill the dangerous foe.
Bill Skarsgard is very disturbing as Pennywise and is equally creepy when subtly whispering to the children as his unnatural movements and monstrous, deadly bite. The clown stands out not just as an enduring pop culture icon but as a truly horrifying villain who grabs the audience’s attention on-screen and leaves you consistently nervous when off-screen. It is dependent on Pennywise in many ways to carry much of the heavy lifting and Skarsgard easily pulls it off. A special mention should go to those that worked on the visuals of Pennywise – the film doesn’t need jump scares or rapid camera movements to scare the viewer, the imagery of Pennywise is frightening enough on its own.
To say the movie is just a standard horror film would do a disservice to the heartfelt story at the centre of the movie. Themes of friendship, trust and letting go of grief play an important role and thankfully the young actors portraying the children have good chemistry together. Seeing the ragtag bunch of kids come together to defeat Pennywise is very gratifying as they learn to overcome their fears and unite to eliminate a common enemy. Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard steals the show as the wise-cracking kid who just can’t keep his mouth shut but the whole of the young cast do a decent job of representing their respective character’s insecurities and fears.
As mentioned previously It doesn’t completely escape unscathed from nonsensical horror tropes. The kids often find themselves splitting up for inexplicable reasons and the adults are of course completely oblivious to the frequent kidnappings going on around them, even if they can’t see the horror of Pennywise directly. This does allow for a unique tone that benefits the plight of the children as King’s depiction of life in suburban America is dismantled and the children’s attempt to survive becomes more hopeless. It also impresses visually serving up some haunting set pieces whether it’s the floating children, a flooded basement or blood-soaked bathroom.
Overall, It is a chilling and horrifying film thanks to its main attraction Pennywise the clown played more than ably by Bill Skarsgard. The film manages to retain the heart of the books in its young cast who have good chemistry and delivery of comedic lines. With haunting visuals and impressive set pieces, It manages to pull off a modern adaptation of a classic novel while also remaining true to the source material.