IT movie review: The scares are few and far between in this Stephen King adaptation

IT movie review: What saves the film from collapsing is the acting by the children, who are effortlessly natural, whether they are just being boys or just being scared kids. As the object of their combined admiration, but with horrors of her own Lillis is both boldly aware and heartbreakingly fragile.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi | Updated: September 8, 2017 5:31 pm
IT movie review, IT film review, it rating, it movie, IT film, it movie, it review, it cast, it stars, it indian express review, Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, it horror movie, latest horror film, hollywood horror film IT movie review: IT, despite all the horror-film stunts it pulls from then on, and then some, never achieves that same level of dread.

IT star cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård
IT director: Andy Muschietti
IT rating: 2.5 stars

In Stephen King’s novel IT, a supernatural figure terrorises children by exploiting their fears, manifesting itself as a clown. In the film adaptation, the horrors lie closer to home, in the form of a sexually predator father, an abusive dad, a sad and overprotective mother, and a Rabbi who may be pushing his son too hard. Plus the grim town is over-run by a gang of school bullies who, during one routine afternoon, carve names into the stomach of a young boy. And yet, we are supposed to believe that clown, which can be shut behind closed doors and which somehow doesn’t kill despite all those teeth, is the scariest thing happening to the seven children.

Muschietti begins well, with a child in a yellow raincoat bent next to a sewer and holding a conversation with a clown with striking blue eyes who hides inside, on a grey, rain-drenched day. Minutes later, all that is left on the road is a patch of red. Scenes of violence against children on film are rare, but in a flash, Muschietti gives us a chewed-up arm, a wounded, crawling kid, and that patch of red.

IT, despite all the horror-film stunts it pulls from then on, and then some, never achieves that same level of dread. That child’s elder brother, Bill (Lieberher), had sent him out that day, and is now riven with guilt and obsessed about finding him down the sewers. He drags with him his friends Richie (Wolfhard), Eddie (Grazer) and Stanley (Oleff). Later, the four are joined by three other ‘misfits’: a girl dubbed a slut, Beverley (Lillis), a plump child with no friends, Ben (Taylor), and a Black kid who is also a victim of the bullies, Mike (Jacobs).

King’s novel spanned a thousand-plus pages, but even given that, Muschietti makes a meek and failed effort at establishing the fears of the seven, which sustain the clown. As a result, the scary thing, or ‘It’, seems to pop up at random, and consistently, and targets only the seven for reasons that remain undefined.

What saves the film from collapsing is the acting by the children, who are effortlessly natural, whether they are just being boys or just being scared kids. As the object of their combined admiration, but with horrors of her own courtesy the sexually abusive father, Lillis is both boldly aware and heartbreakingly fragile. She also has a scene straight out of Stephen King’s Carrie when, as she starts menstruation, she finds herself drenched in blood gushing out of a sink. (The Censors though are intent on hiding something else she picks up apart from tampons in the chemist shop; a grey patch covers the packet.)

As the seven hang out together one summer day, swimming in a creek in plain-white, innocent underwear, listening to a transistor, there is a story in the air. Of children, their friendships, and the real horrors of figuring a way to adulthood amidst benignly negligent or malevolently hurtful parents.

But this film is not it.

For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App

  1. Y
    Yoosuf Mohamed
    Sep 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm
    Dear Indian Express, stop reviewing movies!
    (0)(0)
    Reply
    1. I
      IT - A Big JOKE 1/10
      Sep 13, 2017 at 5:46 pm
      You can realize that not in Bollywood / Hollywood is also FULL OF JOKER --- In My Views Review by Indian Express is ... Absolutely Right... Just a Waste of TIme... IT seems like Director earlier making Ramsey Brothers ZEE Horror Shows... what the is Happening under the Gutter to find a JOKER... Absolutely Rubbish No Horror at All even Director accepted by showing three Doors in Creepy House - Scary / Very Scary / Not Scary at All... Children chose Not Scary at All... 1/10
      (3)(0)
      Reply
      1. S
        Sunny Dua
        Sep 11, 2017 at 11:41 pm
        Thoroughly disagree. I think this movie is a breath of fresh air keeping in mind the genre that has hardly spawned anything soulful and heartwarming such as this in recent years. Look at it as a horror movie? Neh! The beauty of It is that it doesn't try hard to scare. The scary parts that pop up once a while just seem to add fuel to the absolutely intense storyline. Why the clown chooses them? Well he has to choose a few and it has to be them. Ask Stephen King just why! The subtle triangular romance between the kids, the brutal bullying or the incestuous father terrorising a little girl - there's enough weaves to get you held on here as penny wise keeps edging you to your seats. This is high quality entertainment that does not deserve to be trashed. In fact far from it. Parts of it touch you in a way that makes you want to see it again. I came back home and saw the extended trailer and felt very good about it. On an bad day.. a foul mood...you can trash anything.4/5
        (2)(0)
        Reply
        Express Adda