Scary ‘It’ does Stephen King largely by the book: movie review – New York Daily News

Theyve finally stopped clowning around with a Stephen King adaptation.

In fact, It mines its scares almost too seriously for a movie about a demonic clown stalking the children of a New England town. This clown, played by Bill Skarsgard, virtually unrecognizable under all that makeup and coiled menace, is about as funny as a heart attack.

But after a summer that has been positively terrifying for King fans for all the wrong reasons with the Dark Tower firing blanks on the big screen and The Mist leaving television viewers in a fog aficionados will find much to enjoy in the savvy take on the classic horror novel by director Andy Muschietti (Mama).

Set in the late 80s, the film focuses on an ancient demonic creature that surfaces, cicada-like, every 27 years under the guise of a clown named Pennywise to feed on the children of Derry, Maine. This rash of missing kids and dead bodies kicks off with the little brother of Bill Denborough (Midnight Specials Jaeden Lieberher), a stutterer who rallies a gang of his fellow outcasts to investigate.

Considering the lack of recognizable names on the marquee, the young ensemble impressively carries the movie. It taps into Kings bleak views of coming of age and the high school experience. The local bully carves his initials on the overweight nerd. The lone female member of the Loser Club, Bev (Sophia Lillis), is menaced both by her sexual predator father and by the mean girls at her school. Every adult is condescending, stifling or abusive. Filmgoers can be forgiven if they think they accidentally wandered into an Amblin movie from an alternate, evil dimension.

And if all that bicycling those kids are doing chasing after a monster channels Stranger Things, thats probably in part because Finn Wolfhard, one of the stars of the Netflix series, plays the bespectacled Richie and doles out some much-needed comic relief.

There isnt much laughing once the Clown starts his act. Most of the scares are well earned, as Muschietti mines horror tropes effectively, but theres also a stretch where the film really turns into a circus. The set pieces come so fast and furious that a movie-goer is still in mid-gasp from one Pennywise strike when the clown has already moved across town to jump out of someone elses basement.

There are other flaws. Its a lot more uncomfortable to see children die off on screen than it is to read in the pages of a book particularly the visual of watching a six-year-old’s arm being devoured.

And another one of the casualties of It is the books clever flitting between two eras, the main characters childhood and adulthood.The story is hacked in half to cram it into an already-long two hours and 15 minutes running time.

But for the most part It succeeds where disappointingly few other King film adaptations have. It does it by not treating the audience like a bunch of bozos.

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Scary ‘It’ does Stephen King largely by the book: movie review – New York Daily News

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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