REVIEW: IT... send in the clowns

We all float down here.... Bill Skarsg�rds Pennywises (Phot by Brooke Palmer)
We all float down here.... Bill Skarsg�rds Pennywises (Phot by Brooke Palmer)

‘IT’ Premiere, Derry,

Strand Road Omniplex

September 7, 2017.

Coulrophobia: the fear of clowns. If you don’t have it yet, you might well do after a trip to the cinema to see the new film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT.

Warner Brothers representatives were present for the Irish premiere in Derry, the city with the same name as that in which the book/ film is set, and in a brilliant touch, they even had the young cast record a special message for local people before the screening got under way at a packed Strand Road Omniplex on Thursday night.

Now down to the story itself. Every 27 years something terrible happens in the town of Derry, Maine, and fittingly the new movie comes as something of a resurrection 27 years on from the mini-series which featured an unforgettable performance by Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown.

The young cast of IT in a scene from the film (Photo: Brooke Palmer)

The young cast of IT in a scene from the film (Photo: Brooke Palmer)

Killer clowns are rarely on anyone’s top 10 list of favourite things, and in the new film Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise’s distinctly different yet equally menacing powerhouse performance as the psychotic, balloon-popping party pooper is guaranteed to bring sleepless nights to whole new generations across the world.

Director Andy Muschietti and his team deserve great credit for staying largely faithful to the source material of King’s classic horror story, and for the exceptional casting.

The youngsters who have taken on the roles of the seven children who form the heart of ‘IT’ deliver in bucketloads in their respective complex roles and in their interactions.

The characters are all recognisable from the book and the setting (moved from the 1950s to the 1980s) evokes ‘Stranger Things’, but with a lot more chills and a big dollop of humour as the misfits band together to take on their human and supernatural tormentors.

Bring on the clowns... a scene from IT (Photo Brooke Palmer)

Bring on the clowns... a scene from IT (Photo Brooke Palmer)

Stand out performances are delivered by Finn Wolfhard (of Stranger Things), who provides much of the comic relief as the bespectacled, potty-mouthed Richie, and Sophia Lillis, who shines in the complex role of the abused, bullied but resilient Beverley.

Jeremy Ray Taylor evokes the awkward and lonely existence of the teenage misfit as new kid on the block Ben, while the interaction between Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough and Jackson Robert Scott as his young little brother Georgie comes across as very authentic and their scenes together are among the heart-wrenching of the film.

Thankfully despite the tools available to filmmakers today, New Line Cinema’s film doesn’t go overboard on the special effects, but when they do come into play they create some mesmerising cinematic moments that show just how effective they can be when used to enhance a story.

And at heart this is a story about a group of kids and the writers and director have managed to tell the story from their perspective, and what a story.

For millions across the globe, Stephen King reigns supreme as the Master of Horror, and while adaptations of his work in screen have varied widely over the years, this is one film that will surely be ‘floating’ about among the top tier.

Looking forward to IT Chapter Two. Send in the clowns......

Review by Brendan McDaid.