It: The horror you weren't expecting

2017-09-17 00:00

City Press Movie Review

Movie: It
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis
Stars: 3 and a half stars

Media outlet Vice reported two weeks ago that a group of clowns in Canada planned to stand outside their local theatre during the release of horror film It to protest against the bad reputation the film has given clowns.

“We feel that this [film] has done great harm to the business of clowning and for clowns,” said Dianne McNicol, who performs under the name Dottie The Clown.

“A number of clown clubs have actually folded due to the negativity surrounding It. You need to remember that clowns are people too,” she said.

Undoubtedly, Stephen King’s iconic horror novel, which was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1990, has been adding to people’s coulrophobia for decades.

Unfortunately, It’s bark is worse than its bite in this remake. Although the film is stacked to the brim with surreal, visceral imagery, it doesn’t terrify hardly as much as one would’ve expected. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Argentinean director Andrés Muschietti’s It feels far more loyal to the original story than the 1990 version did.

King’s book was, after all, largely about childhood. Like much of his work, the heroes are children, and they live largely in a world devoid of adults. In fact, when adults do enter the story, they are usually meddlesome, ignorant or a source of pain – sound commentary on the adult world’s damaging effect on the sacred realm of children.

The film employs a cast of unknown young actors, and although their lines come off as a little awkward here and there, they are mostly charming and wonderfully talented.

By far, the standout actor in the cast is Sophia Lillis, who plays Beverly Marsh, the only girl in the ragtag group. She’s got a quiet magnetism and an emotional range that’s spellbinding to watch.

Despite having plenty of gore, It works because it retains a sense of decency. Unlike some of the gratuitous horror films we’ve seen lately, where women in particular are dispatched in the most disturbing and inhumane ways (Don’t Breathe comes to mind), It does not delve into offensive violence.

If you’re looking for a psychological horror that will leave you disturbed for weeks, something like Paranormal Activity is still the scarier option, but if you’re looking for a faithful rendition of King’s book that you’ll be happy to know unfolds into a sequel, this one’s for you. And, rest assured, the clown is still bloody scary. 

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