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Every 27 years a child or series of children go missing in the otherwise sleepy town in Maine, a peaceable town that has an inexplicable death rate six times the average of the entire US.
The reason behind this is a shape-shifting ghoul called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) who currently takes the form of a psychotic clown and who has terrorised the town for decades, resurfacing every 27 years.
A group of childhood loners take on Pennywise after he kills the younger brother of one of them.
Review, by @Reelreviewer
I don’t like clowns. Or balloons. Or people who dress up as ‘Disney’ cartoon characters and try to hug you at theme parks. They freak me out.Jason Day, owner and editor of CineSocialUK.
Not a word in common usage, apart from when someone is on the psychiatrist’s couch or you find yourself within ear shot of yours truly at a carnival, circus or amusement park.
Not that I make a habit of that you understand – why do people feel the need to dress up as Disney characters or clowns? And as a way to earn money! Why?!
That point forms another blog post entirely so back to the film at hand, which is a remake of the seminal and very unsettling TV adaptation starring the always watchable Tim Curry as the psychotic clown chomping his way through New England kiddies.
I have blogged before about loving being scared sh*tless by horror movies, one of which left me momentarily paralysed with fear.
In the isolating, stygian dark of the cinema, with the massive screen towering over you and with your brain discombobulated with chilling images and creepy music, it’s easy to feel alone, vulnerable and for a horror movie to do its worse (or best, as I see it).
I saw It at home on my laptop and for me, there were two things that stuck out for me. Firstly, it’s a long film (two and a quarter hours) and secondly I never felt scared from watching it.
Weird and unsettling yes – such as the opening, creepy version of The Bells of St. Clements on the soundtrack and it’s not often you see a kid have their arm bitten off in the first reel – and with some fantastic performances, but I was never on the edge of my sofa or squirming in my seat.
This could well be because of how I chose to view it, smaller screens and the familiar surroundings of my living room would reduce any big-screen outings impact, but I saw the remake of The Hills Have Eyes at home and was shocked enough I had to pause the DVD and ‘walk it off’.
From seeing the trailer, the sequel appears to have its scare factor ramped up.
There is good attention to 80’s period detail, both visually and with the dialogue. Chopper bikes, New Kids on the Block songs and films like Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 (the one with Patsy Kensit) place us as much as the dodgy fashion.
One of the boys is obsessed with risk and comes out with a few belters, if you listen carefully to him twittering away:
Owen’s bleeding all over and you know there’s an AIDS pandemic right now…
89% of the worse accidents are caused in bathrooms…
Young actors can always be a bit of a mixed bag in film and TV, either too aware, precious and annoying or too unfocused, not skilled enough and taxing on an audience’s patience. It is to the casting team’s credit that stellar young talent was assembled.
Rounding this off is Skarsgard in the title role. While not completely erasing Curry from fan’s memories, he makes Pennywise a deeply unsettling character, paving the way for a sequel.
Cast & credits
Director: Andy Muschietti. 2hr 15mins/135 mins. New Line Cinema/Rat-Pac Dune Entertainment/Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures/KatzSmith Productions. (15)
Producers: Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Barbara Muschietti.
Writers: Chase Palmer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman.
Camera: Chung-hoon Chung.
Music: Benjamin Wallfisch.
Sets: Claude Paré.
Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Olef, Bill Skarsgard, Nicholas Hamilton.