Coulrophobia is defined as an abnormal fear of clowns and if you suffer from it, present day entertainment must be rough for you. Clowns are everywhere nowadays, from clown sightings in suburban neighborhoods throughout 2016, to the most recent season of American Horror Story, to (depending on your political views) the White House. The most recent addition to the clown invasion is Andy Muschietti’s It, the second film adaptation of the Stephen King novel from 1986. While I don’t personally find clowns that scary, this movie is terrifying in all manners of the word. However, the thing that most surprised me about this film was its heart.
It takes place in Derry, Maine during the summer of 1989. We follow the Losers’ Club, a group of kids who all feel like outsiders but are able to find friendship with each other. When one of the of the members’ brother goes mysteriously missing, the group goes on a quest to defeat Pennywise, a subway-dwelling, shapeshifting clown that can transform into each of the kids’ greatest fears. While this plot does share similarities to Stranger Things, including the shared casting of Finn Wolfhard, It does enough to define itself as it’s own entity.
What makes this movie truly succeed is the chemistry and camaraderie of the Losers’ Club. Child actors can sometimes be here or there, but every single one of these kids was excellent, especially considering that a lot of them were acting in their first movies. The writing for the Losers’ Club’s scenes was so good, that oftentimes I was more excited to see the next Losers’ Club scene than I was to see Pennywise again.
Of course, the movie also needed an amazing Pennywise, and they found one. Bill Skarsgård played the nightmarish clown, and he gave the creature such an otherworldly quality. At the towering height of 6’4, he used his body to seem like a giant compared to the kids, and the way he spoke was so strange, it was almost indescribable. His eyes were always slightly askew, which gave the impression that this was more than just a clown.
Since this is a horror movie, it needs to be judged on how scary it was and It totally satisfied. One jump scare really made me feel like I was having a heart attack, and Pennywise in clown form was truly terrifying; however, Pennywise in other forms was a little underwhelming.
Since Pennywise can take the form of your greatest fears, he turns into some lackluster CGI monsters. These monsters just looked really fake and took me out of the movie slightly. These monsters also kept coming back to a point at which it felt repetitive, and I really wanted to get back to clown Pennywise.
The bullies in this film were also very frightening, especially Nicholas Hamilton, who played the main bully, Henry Bowers. He had to perform some truly heinous acts on the Losers’ Club and gave a psychotic performance.
This is the first horror movie I’ve seen where I’ve simultaneously cried, laughed, and been scared the entire time.
It should be noted that, in the new It, what is shown is only half of the original story, so it was made with a sequel in mind.
Due to that, some of the mythos surrounding Pennywise has yet to be explained. However, the movie did do a good job with making this feel like a self-contained story. Tinged with ‘80s flair, complete with good writing, and featuring some hauntingly amazing performances, Andy Muschietti’s It is everything a great horror movie needs to be.