Stephen King‘s properties are again making the rounds as tentpole films — just a few months ago we had The Dark Tower, and now we have another of his literary classics, It. This one while having been published back in ’86, now suffers from immediate comparisons to innumerable other works that have come along since then.
As a horror story, taken in the context of when it was written would have been decent. Unfortunately by 2017, it is about as milquetoast of a horror film as 50 Shades of Grey is to the BSDM community. Members of the audience who either aren’t regular horror watchers or are perhaps young teens might jump here or there, however for the rest of the audience the only people likely to react are those who might be scared out of their wits by clowns to begin with.
Right now the gang of kids dealing with terrors unseen by the adults around them does more than echo Netflix’s Stranger Things. What does carry through is King’s masterful ability to write coming of age tales and that aspect of It does work spectacularly — the handful of outcast friends, making up the Losers’ Club, and their respective struggles with bullying, abuse, and social invisibility make for some of the most compelling parts of the film. Jaeden Leiberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, and Jack Dylan Grazer each deliver in turn, with Lillis standing foremost among them.
A recurring evil entity, manifesting as a circus clown calling itself Pennywise the Dancing Clown (played by Bill Skarsgård), manifests every 27 years to terrorize and kill residents of the town (mostly children) and feeding on their fears. The premise of a demon/poltergeist that feeds on fears is also hardly new, most recently in 2016’s Lights Out.
It’s not a bad film, it just suffers from a lack of originality and a mediocre level of horror. As a starter horror film, something for young adults to get into the genre, it will probably wind up being a new-era classic. However even in that category, the Disney classic film Something Wicked This Way Comes would probably do a far better job.
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