Stephen King’s 1986 novel of IT about a shape-shifting demon terrorizing the town of Derry in Maine was adapted for TV in 1990. Tommy Lee Wallace’s mini-series featuring Tim Curry as the malevolent dancing clown of Pennywise became worst nightmare for every one with coulrophobia.
This year, Andy Muschietti brings a touch of widescreen gloss to King’s enduring horror-adventure. Muschietti’s tangible affection for the misfit schoolkids at the center of this story draws us into their world lending engaging weight to their adolescent trials and tribulations.
Tackling only the early years of King’s chunky source, this movie relocates the coming-of-age section of the novel from the 50s to the late 80s. Georgie Denbrough is still dragged into a storm drain by the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). Riddled with guilt and grief, Georgie’s older brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) becomes obsessed with finding the lost boy. As the summer vacation of 1989 rolls around with more youngsters disappear, a group of variously bullied “Losers” embark upon a quest through the woods and into the sewers in search of a mythical monster.
Significant scenes are sequences of all key characters being haunted by nightmarish apparitions that feed upon their individual fears. Mike (Chosen Jacobs) sees visions of fiery tragedy that chime with suppressed memories of childhood trauma. Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) is distracted from his bar mitzvah rehearsals by a chaotic face that leers at him from a painting. For hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), he is pursued by “a walking infection” embodying his mother’s overprotective fantasies. As for the only girl Beverly (Sophia Lillis), her anxieties manifest in a bloody eruption
IT 2017 movie is a self-reflexively cine-literate world as posters for Gremlins and Beetlejuice hanging on children’s walls and the gateway to the monster’s lair resembling Norman Bates’s home from Psycho. In one bravura sequence, the kids use a slide projector to mount their own movie show.
Cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon keeps his cameras gliding elegantly around the action lending an epic cinematic sweep to the widening horizons of youth as the Losers getting involved in outdoor rock fights and bike chases as exuberant as anything from ET. For all its horror trappings, this is still a story in which battles with the supernatural can be abruptly curtailed when your mom turns up unexpectedly. Henry may be the knife-wielding scourge of our antiheroes, but a scene in which he is humiliated by his boorish father reminds us that his anger has been passed down through generations.
IT movie 2017 can be completed without the music composed by Benjamin Wallfisch. He creates an emotionally resonant score to accompany Muschietti’s blend of scares and sentimentality. The result is an energetic romp with crowd-pleasing appeal that isn’t afraid to bare its gory teeth.