Another year in Hollywood and so comes the release of remakes, whether it’s an American version of a foreign film or another film that others deem classic. The most anticipated film of this year is the new version of Stephen King’s “It,” which made readers and viewers never look at clowns or storm drains the same way again.
The film opens with a heavy rainstorm in the small, fictional town of Derry, Maine in the 1980s – a classic setting for horror films. We see young Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), who suffers from a stutter, makes his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) a paper boat. As Georgie chases the boat down the road, it falls into a storm drain and as Georgie looks into the darkness, we see the glowing yellow eyes and the sinister smile of Pennywise, the dancing clown, for the first time; it’s a face that inspires fear whenever we see it later in the film.
After the disappearance of his little brother, Bill takes it upon himself to find him. Funny how the police and the parents seem to have given up so soon. He enlists the help of his friends: hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), motor mouth Richie (Finn Wolfhard) and shy Stanley (Wyatt Oleff). Being that they each have quirks that make them outsiders, they refer to themselves as “The Losers Club.”
During their search, they befriend kind-hearted Beverly (Sophia Lillis), bullied Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and loner Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor). Together they uncover a series of events that result in the disappearance of children every 27 years.
Aside from being the victims of the local mullet-wearing sports bullies, the thing that draws them together is their terrifying visions involving the clown and his evil, taunting chuckle.
The film makes it clear that the audience will be scared and it is indeed bursting with nightmarish effects. An effective strategy is that there are no major names in the cast. That works to reduce expectations on the actors who are not living up to some hype and allows the audience to follow regular kids around for this thrill ride.
Promising talent is shown among the young actors, particularly Jaeden and Sophia. In the title role, which describes the demonic specter that takes the form of Pennywise, actor Bill Skarsgård sinks his teeth (or should I say rows of teeth) into the role, relishing the opportunity to create a character so threatening that it inspired a series of mysterious clown sightings in the last year.
It should be noted that, while the running time is over two hours, the story is not over. The film only covers what is in the first half of the novel. When “It: Chapter Two” is released, the audience will see the grown-up version of the Losers Club and how they deal with the re-emergence of the balloon-carrying Pennywise.