The return of Stephen King’s evil clown looks like a great coming-of-age story with some scary moments
The history of Stephen King’s television and film adaptations wasn’t always flattering: with The Shining, Misery, 11/22/63 and a few more exceptions, everything else was visually far from the atmosphere and the complexity of King’s books.
1990’s mini-series version of IT was a peculiar case: Tim Curry’s impressive performance as Pennywise, the clown, masked a very questionable TV packaging and resisted the test of time, terrifying the generations to come.
The new IT film is meant to be a “Chapter One” of two, revealing only a part of the author’s bestseller: King’s novel is set in Derry, in 1958, and it explores the lives and the fears of seven kids after the death of Georgie Denbrough, a six year old child. His older brother Bill and his friends gradually find out that Georgie has been killed by IT, an evil creature capable of various manifestations: most of the times, he likes to show himself as “Pennywise The Dancing Clown”. IT came to Derry million of years ago and it awakens from a slumber in the town sewers every 27 years, so King also follows the future of his characters.
In Andy Muschietti’s IT the facts are the same but, following the current 80s nostalgia, the argentinian director transports the kids in 1989 (one year after Georgie’s death) and he cuts intentionally the part of the story concerning their lives as adults.
The attention to detail is mesmerizing: the new film is enhanced with great cinematography, magnificent visual effects and a delightful soundtrack. But Muschietti’s IT looks like an enjoyable coming-of-age story, dealing more with real life horrors (like pedophilia and bullies), than with the fear itself represented by the clown. The lack of rhythm is maybe the most evident flaw in the film: the first part is a friendship story where Pennywise is a distracting presence who gets in the way every now and then to scare the kids; in the second part we see the clown a little bit more as he uses his evil tricks to separate them.
Bill Skarsgård (the younger brother of Alexander) plays Pennywise: we didn’t miss Curry’s IT thanks to his outstanding performance. Skarsgård’s clown is chatty, shifty, more sarcastic and unpredictable (you’ll also love he way he wiggles his eyebrows).
You’ll recognize Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Wyatt Oleff (Guardians of the Galaxy) among the talented younger actors, but all of them did a great job.
There’s a clear effort to appreciate behind this new IT, but forget your expectations: what you’ll get is a skillful combination of Stand by Me and Stranger Things with some hair-raising scenes.
The film hits italian theaters on October 19.