Movie Review: IT

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer

Genre: Horror

Rating: 9/10

Warning: This post is NOT spoiler-free

Despite my general indifference towards the Horror genre, the moment I heard that a new adaptation of Stephen King’s famed “IT” was on the way, I couldn’t help but to sit up. As a fan of his literary works, how could I not? Till this day I look upon “Misery” as one of my favourite books of all time, psychopathy, gore and all.

So anticipation naturally mounted as months passed me by, with posters, dramatic clown sightings and a movie trailer only serving to increase it. When “IT” finally hit cinemas, I was quick to buy tickets the first chance I got.

And mind you, I was not disappointed. While my friend of 19 years squirmed in her seat even though it was already her second viewing of the film, my eyes were shining with anticipation. I had not managed to finish reading the novel like I originally planned -work reasons, of course- but I had read enough to have a good feeling about the general storyline. To think I got to watch the new adaptation so soon after picking up the book!

For those who are unaware of the plotline of the film, here is the gist of it: the small, inconspicuous town of Derry has something about it that slips under the radar for most. Something big. This thing being the chilling fact that it has the highest number of missing people cases in comparison to other towns- and by a startling mile. Even the inhabitants of Derry seem to approach this with a worrying lack of empathy, with the majority of its residents soon forgetting about such disappearances despite their mounting frequency. –And within that mass of bland, grey passivity is a young boy by the name of Ben.

A loner and a bookworm, this library-bound lad seems to be the only one who has noticed this trend at all. It is through his dusty readings that he notes these disappearances occur every 27 years, like clockwork. Such events tend to be isolated incidents as well, which serves as one of the primary reasons why no one living is around to provide any clues as to what had happened.

To delve further into the plot, the story starts with Georgie, the little brother of the protagonist. Whilst chasing the newly waxed paper boat that his older brother, Bill, had made for him, his brand new toy, carried by the flow of water from the heavy rain, falls into the drain. It is here that the unfortunate lad meets It, the being grinning from where it stands inside the drain. Calling itself Pennywise, It is disguised as a clown, for the sheer purpose of luring in its preferred prey- a tool that It utilizes to its very fullest, until it at last succeeds in coaxing poor George to draw closer.

A wash of crimson decorates the quiet Derry street, the colour soon disappearing as it slips into the drain.

Interestingly enough, if one were to step into the cinema without any IT novel knowledge whatsoever, they would find the story incredibly similar to Supernatural’s episode 2 of season 1, “Wendigo”.

The episode bears the following themes: a being that reawakens every set period of years to feast on unknowing victims before slipping into hibernation, few living to tell the tale, the creature’s habit of hoarding extra “sacks of meat” in its abode and its ability to imitate humans (at least in terms of speech).

The similarities are enough to cause one to wonder if wendigo lore had inspired King.

Or if IT had inspired Supernatural, much to Sam’s dismay.

So is it worth the watch?

Despite not being as scary as certain other horror films, “IT” is definitely one to put on your To Watch List. Masterfully created, this film is one that will have you gripping the edges of your seat while watching it- especially with it being one of those rare monster movies with a LOT of monster in it. Pennywise appears rather frequently, yet the terror it strikes into the hearts of viewers doesn’t waver an inch. As a matter of fact, the more often It appears, the more the situation escalates, to the point where you fear for the lives of the entire cast.

Who will die? Who will be the next to disappear?

Pennywise grins as you ponder this, eagerly waiting for more children to follow its psychological lure.

This heightened anxiety is propelled further by the structure of the movie, which is coloured by a thrilling story that explores the human psyche, and a stunning performance by the entire cast- most notably by the actor of the very being that everyone is afraid of.

Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Clown will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable clowns in film history- and yes, this is the very same list with the late Heath Ledger’s Joker on it.

At the same time, however, despite “IT” being scary while watching it, it fails to maintain that feeling even after the reel ends. This might just be me, though. Some people avoid drains and whenever they can, the bathroom, a long while after watching the film.

All in all? A movie that largely stays faithful to King’s literary giant (with a few changes, of course) whilst maintaining the ability to act as a stand alone. Simply brilliant, despite the shoddy censorship.

Something I’m sure other Malaysian moviegoers were as puzzled about as I was.

I mean, how could one swear word uttered by a child be censored while for pretty much the rest of the movie, the children swore freely? Then there were the kisses… One was cut out while the other wasn’t. The poor censoring work astounds me, as do the scenes that had been cut out. So a swear word is censored, but a mad clown feasting on a severed arm and waving it around happily isn’t?

Well, then. To each their own, I suppose.

Anyway, watch “IT”.

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