Director: Andy Muschietti
Stars: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
IT. Everyone should know this one by now. Not just the groundbreaking Stephen King novel, not from the 1990 miniseries, but from this; the most successful, highest-grossing horror movie of all time. And yeah, it deserves that recognition. It did the incredible task of making people forget (sort of) Tim Curry’s amazing performance of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Curry is still great, easily the best thing about the 90s version, but Bill Skarsgård is simply amazing as the killer clown and is unmatched in the role. This first movie (as we find out when “Chapter One” pops up during the end credits, in case there was any doubt) easily out-classed the first part of the 90s miniseries, which was that show’s best part by far. So consider the bar set high for the sequel and yeah, you can stop reading right here and just go get this new Blu-ray from Universal. It’s that good. If you still need more of a reason, keep reading, don’t play in the rain, and let’s dive into It.
Seven preteen kids live in Derry, Maine in the 80s and they are all outcasts, or “losers,” for one reason or another. If that wasn’t bad enough, there is an ancient, ageless evil living under the town that wakes up every few decades, terrorizes children with their worst fears, or in the guise of a creepy clown called Pennywise, and then eats them. The kids all have to band together, face their fears, and go into the sewers underneath Derry to face this formless, shape-changing evil they call “it.”
Yeah, you know the story, but there are a few things that set this movie over the previous take on this amazing King novel. The kids are all better across the board. Now the kids in the 90s It were pretty good, much better than their adult counterparts, but these child actors are just simply amazing. They’re funny as hell, believable as terrified kids, and the sense of friendship they have is legit. The scares are more intense, but that only makes sense as this is an R-rated film and the other It was a TV miniseries. But the ability not to be bound by televisions censors is one thing; the main reason this movie is so good and so damn scary is Bill Skarsgård, the actor they got to play the demonic clown. He just kills it in that part. I cannot go on enough about the man or his work, it’s just got to be seen to be believed. So I’m going to resist the temptation to gush all-out and only say that if you have yet to see this movie, boy are you in for a treat and what the hell are you waiting for?
Let’s get to those extras on this new Blu-ray from Warner Brothers. First, a mark against the release: no commentary. That made me sad, as I would have really liked one for this movie but c’est la vie. There is a 16 minuet featurette on Pennywise and Bill Skarsgård’s amazing performance of the ancient child eater. There is a near 16-minute featurette on the child actors and the “Losers’ Club.” There is one more short feature on Stephen King, the man behind the clown and the kids, that runs for 14 minutes. There is also a collection of deleted scenes and, well, that’s it. So it’s not bare bones, but for a movie that was as big as this, there should have been more. Do I smell a “collector’s edition” double dip coming down the pike? Hmmm, I bet there is.
It is an amazing film. It (ha) deserves every ounce of praise it has received and it will easily make it onto my Top 10 Horror of 2017 list. I can’t wait to see how they follow this up and hope they don’t drop the ball during the second part like the miniseries did. Anyway yeah, I love It and I highly recommend it. Now get it.