• 16 Sep - 22 Sep, 2017
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

Clowns are creepy and scary, and that alone wins half the battle for the adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 horror novel It. If you are asking whether the clown is an effective device in the movie, then the answer might depend how young you are; if you are younger than 18, it wouldn’t matter that much. It opens effectively in 1988. In a stormy weather, big brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is sick in bed, so younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes out to play alone with the boat Bill made for him. There, Georgie comes face to face with It (Bill Skarsgård), a clown grinning from ears to ears who has evil intents shining in his eyes. After the encounter, Georgie goes missing. A year goes by, and Bill doesn’t think his brother is dead. Other kids also start to go missing, and no adult in the town seems to want to get to the root of their disappearance.

However, Bill’s friends Stan (Wyatt Oleff) and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) have both seen that mysterious clown, and other human-like creatures that scare them when they are alone. Soon we meet Bev (Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs), the new additions to their group which ultimately becomes known as The Losers Club. The three, too, have come in contact with the frightening clown. Only Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the joker of the gang has never seen the clown. These kids don’t have just the ominous shadow of the clown, that is known as both, It and Pennywise, to worry about but other problems as well, such as familial neglect and depression in Bill’s case, over protectiveness of Eddie’s mother, and in Bev’s case, the darker side of her drunkard father. Through growing pains, life and horror, the group unites to face the entity of It together.

This theatrical movie is far superior to its 1990’s television miniseries version, be it in visual effects or the rhythm of the story. What it lacked is the imagination and ambiance of horror. The terror doesn’t feel eminent enough to be threatening. The Conjuring, Annabelle, Insidious and the highly effective Paranormal Activity have built up on the unseen horror premise, and tightened the fear screw to its extreme. With It you keep seeing the creepy clown, with only half-hearted jump scares in place to translate his terror to the screen. Besides these scares, Pennywise is just a creepy clown who contorts a lot, while running toward the audience most of the time.

The cast of the young actors is refreshing, who carry the bonding part of the movie with resounding conviction and depth (Sophia Lillis and Jaeden Lieberher stand out). Director Andy Muschietti is the same man who had made the underappreciated Mama – a film about a ghost who takes on the role of a mother to two abandoned girls and doesn’t let them go when they are taken into a civilised household. Mama had a lot of unseen horror and moments that built up to the surprising end. It doesn’t have those moments – the movie is linear and ho-hum till the last quarter. The film deserves its R-rated certificate – there is a healthy amount of gushing blood in scenes, as well as profane language delivered from the young cast. The story makes it a point to show the gore – It likes to eat kids, and this time the filmmakers took the opportunity with brazen uninhibitedness. •