By Cynthia Ayala
“A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.” —IMDB
Before I begin, let me just say this: I was not a fan of the original miniseries, even as a child it bored the crap out of me and I did not find Pennywise frightening. It was unimpressive, the original. Part of the reason was the length. It was too long, making it dull. Yes, I understand the concept of a miniseries, some of my favorite things are miniseries (The 10th Kingdom, Dune, Children of Dune). However, with a story like this, something that is supposed to be a horror, the energy, the tension has to be consistent, it has to be there lurking behind every shadow, every corner, every scene. It needs to keep the audience on edge, and I do not feel like the original does that properly. Especially when it hits the adult part of the story, it becomes repetitive and lackluster. It stopped being scary.
Now you have this reboot which made the smart decision to split the story into two separate parts. This split also means the film can take all the essential components of part one of the novel and sharply focus on who these kids are and what haunts them, what are their fears, and how those fears define who they are. Moreover, that’s part of what makes this film so enjoyable. The children in the movie, they had the energy to keep the movie moving forward, and they had the perfect chemistry with one another. The dynamic between these kids and the way they brought the film to life was fantastic. They understood the material that was handed to them and understood what they were fighting, what their characters had to overcome making their performances so captivating. Honestly, these kids were great.
Then there is Bill Skarsgård. Not only was his performance of Pennywise incredible, but it was also scary, it was spooky. There was nothing light about his performance which goes towards art direction as well. His costume design was magnificent; it didn’t look like the standard clown outfit, it was sinister in its design and Skarsgård’s, god he was just amazing. From his voice, the way he talked, to the way he smiled, there was something so sinister about his performance that kept the viewer on edge. It is not like Tim Curry’s representation where it would easily be feasible for the characters to want to follow him. Here, you want the children to run away. There is nothing to lure the children to their fates except their curiosity. His performance was different and darker than the original. Skarsgård mastered the sinister vibe perfectly.
As for the direction of the film itself, the writers and directors make the right choice here. The film is darker all around, from filming with a darker filter to capturing the darker side of this small town with the smallest shots capturing the smallest details that make the tension and suspense in the film rise. Acting aside, the crew behind the film is amazing because they understood just how to keep the viewer at the edge of their seats and even make us jump. (★★★★ | A+)
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Based on It by Stephen King
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures