If you’re of a certain age you’ll probably remember the ‘It’ TV mini series of 1990, based on Stephen Kings classic novel. And you’ll also have lasting memories of Tim Curry as Pennywise, the demonic clown who terrorises the town of Derry, Maine. His was the definitive evil clown, the benchmark for all scary movie clowns to come. This big screen version remake had a lot to live up to.
We meet the new Pennywise pretty early on in the movie as young Georgie ventures out into the heavy rain to play with the paper boat that he and older brother Bill just made. Anyone familiar with the story, or the trailer for the movie, knows exactly what’s coming, so it’s no surprise when Pennywise appears in the drain where Georgie loses his boat. Calmly menacing, and excellently played by Bill Skarsgård, but sounding strangely like Scooby-Doo as he chats away to Georgie, which kind of made him more funny than scary. It’s not until he bites off Georgie’s arm and drags him down into the sewer that you know he means business.
From there, Pennywise takes a bit of a backseat as we’re introduced to our core cast of kids. It’s now been a while since Georgie disappeared and kids are still going missing around town, meaning there’s now a 7pm curfew in effect. Bill is still mourning the loss of younger brother Georgie and his group of friends all have their own personal issues and demons to deal with too. These are gradually explored throughout the movie and are in some ways more sad and disturbing than Pennywise himself. On top of that, the local bully and his gang like to make their lives hell and all of this is just dealt with perfectly, giving off a wonderful Stand By Me/The Goonies/Stranger Things feel, even more so as the movie is set in the late 1980s. The kids swear, make jokes together and at the expense of each other. They ride their bikes around town, have rock fights with the bullies and the entire cast is just a joy to watch.
Eventually, Pennywise steps things up a notch as he begins appearing to each of the kids, playing on their fears as he tries to lure them to their deaths. His appearances tend to involve a creepy, chilling build up, followed by a surprisingly effective jump scare (certainly some of the women in nearby seats to me seemed to be constantly on the brink of having a heart attack!). The scares become increasingly inventive and enjoyable as the movie progresses and while not as scary and gory as some might like, they still manage to work well within the context of the entire movie.
I had a lot of fun watching It. And this is only Chapter One of a two part series, with Chapter Two set to focus on the part of the story where the kids are all adults. I can’t wait to see what comes next!