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Film review: It (2017)

By Paul Berrington

Director: Andy Muschietti

Starring; Jaeden Leiberher, Finn Wolfhand, Bill Skarsgård, and Sophia Lillis

Rating: 3.5/5

Something lurks in the sewers of Derry, Maine, an ancient evil that preys upon your deepest phobias, capable of shapeshifting into the monster of your worst nightmares, rising every 27 years with a hunger for the small town’s children. So who’s going to fight this evil entity? The same kids It is trying to eat of course.

After the disappearance of his younger brother, Bill (Jaeden Leiberher) feels disconnected, his parent’s grief stricken, his own nightmares filled with visions of his dead sibling. As the school term ends, Bill and friends, foul-mouthed Richie (Finn Wolfhand), hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and germophobe Stan (Wyatt Oleff), are, as usual, being harassed by local bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and his gang. Meanwhile Bev (Sophia Lillis), abused at home and called a slut at school, Mike (Chosen Jacobs), a home schooled boy with a domineering father, and Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), a chubby kid who’d rather read books at the library than socialise, are all connected by personal conflict. Forming what they call the ‘Losers Club’, Bill and his friends discover they’re all being haunted by the same entity, which appears in different forms to each child, but also takes the guise of an evil clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). As more children disappear, the Losers Club know there’s only one way they’ll survive, and that’s to enter the sewers in which It hides, and destroy it before it destroys them.

There’s been so much hype surrounding It, which has been in development since 2009, and has survived directional changes and several actors being attached to the It/Pennywise role. So can it live up to the excitement, mainly from Stephen King fans, and is it scary? While this isn’t the best adaption of the author’s work, It certainly captures King’s alternate reality, a setting that seems like everyday life, but has lurking beneath, and underbelly of evil energy. While this never matches the vision of Kurbrick or De Palma, it plays like a fanboy’s dream, classic heavy metal on the soundtrack, and trendy retroism in the frame.

Despite good performances throughout, particularly Sophia Lillis, who makes the most of her back story, and Bill Skarsgård, whose Pennywise is a truly frightening creation, the storytelling feels a little clumsy. Yet in terms of frights, It delivers enough jump scares to spill your popcorn, alongside a smorgasbord of terrifying images that are likely to fill your own nightmares for some time to come.

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