I’m not one for scary films so the prospect of going to the cinema to watch IT absolutely terrified me. Not having seen the original I didn’t really know what to expect. I know of Pennywise, and thanks to a variety of meme’s I know he has something to do with sewers. I also know the red balloon is another icon associated with the film. More recently I was on social media and came across people posting photo’s of red balloons popping up around Sydney, tied to rainwater grates. Made me fear the impending movie night.
So I made my way to Bondi Junction contemplating what the next few hours would bring me. There was an IT experience, (welcomed by people dressed in yellow raincoats) you had to walk through what appeared to be a sewer entrance, where you were then greeted by red light and an IT board with a bevy of red balloons. Further in, there was a virtual experience, which I didn’t even dare to try. We contemplated it for a moment and my guest was considering it. Then we saw the woman in front of us, who had just put the glasses on, jump and quickly remove the glasses saying, “no, no, nope.” She was so scared. Which made me scared thinking, this is just the virtual experience, what will the movie be like?
We were then ushered into the cinema where we sat for a few moments, the tension building. After the trailers, we were greeted with the sound of a young child singing. At that point I was ready to start humming to calm myself down, but realised I sounded just like the singing, so promptly stopped. We are introduced to two brothers Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), who are at home whilst it’s raining outside. Bill sends his younger brother Georgie down to the basement for supplies as they’re making a paper boat. Then there’s the case of, fearing the scary dark basement. Georgie conquers that obstacle, takes the wax up to his brother where they finish the boat. We then see Georgie exit the house wearing a yellow raincoat. At that point I was thinking, this isn’t good. Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) is introduced here, there was definitely something unsettling about the clown.
The course of the film then revolves around Bill and his friends Richie (Finn Wolfhar), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff). The film isn’t just about the threat of Pennywise and the way he torments the children, it’s also about other characters the children interact with. Good and bad. Along the way they make new friends, or at least unite with people they would have just passed in the hallway or street such as Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs). These young actors did a great job creating each character and were incredibly believable. Sophia Lillis actually reminded me of a young version of Amy Adams, there was a level of gravitas to some of her scenes. Then there came the wit and humour from Richie, Eddie, Bill and Stanley. The boys really delivered each joke, each moment and it was so fitting with the way younger children can behave. The audience really responded well to this. As the characters and actors worked well off each other, creating a great dynamic throughout the film.
Pennywise himself yes, had a major creepy factor about him, but for the most part I think the special effects and stunts seemed unrealistic. For me, that’s what let the film down. The parts where you should have been terrified, I found myself focusing on the thought that Pennywise was probably attached to a harness and wires to create a jump like that. I think perhaps his movements seemed too rehearsed or too precise for that matter. For example when he was charging towards some of the characters it seemed almost too perfect the way he was moving from left to right. I also found some situations, music and set design similar to other films. One for instance, the old derelict house featured in the middle and end, reminded me of the house from Coraline. It was even making similar sounds. Another example, at one point the music sounded very much like One Day More from Les Miserables. Again, this distracted me from the film itself. There were a couple more instances throughout the film, which to be honest may have actually helped me in evading great fear.
However I have to bring it back to the main cast of children, they really gave such great performances. I think the script helped in this instance, as each character had something unique about them. Something that added to the overall story and direction they were all heading. It was these personal stories that really helped create a solid foundation for the complete story. I liked how through their own personal stories they contributed a piece of knowledge or assistance in their attempts to defeat Pennywise. Like the breakdown of information discovered by Ben. Then we add little funny moments to break up the seriousness of the scene, we really responded as an audience. I think this helped the viewer feel almost like everything would be okay. For instance, the part where Eddie is standing up to his mother and rather than saying placebo, he says gazebo. A serious moment, where the audience is so focused on what the characters are saying and then you hear a line like that, it brings the level back down. You really start to focus on the fact that these young children are facing this evil character, their fears straight on and approaching it in a way that really makes you empathise with each character.
Coming from someone who very rarely picks a horror/thriller film you should definitely see IT in theatres. If not because you’re a fan of the original or Stephen King’s work, go and see it for the great performances from these talented young actors and the funny moments that break up the scary moments. An added bonus is the fact there’ll be a possible second film as this film ends with the title, “Chapter One”.