The scene was set, tucked away in the quaint and beautiful Cottage Road Cinema in Leeds, popcorn in hand and boyfriend dutifully ready for me to curl against him in fear, like a puppy on bonfire night. I had expected the coming experience to be a jump-scare riddled gore-fest, but Andy Muschietti’s take on Stephen Kings ‘IT’ delivered so much more.
For a start, the promotional campaign for this film was on point. My social media is congested with imaged of red balloons, spray-painted drains and, not to mention, the “killer clown” trend that went around over the last year. Working in a customer facing role, part of my job is discussing the latest in current events, local gossip and entertainment and, while not everyone has a positive opinion on the film, everyone from kids to grannies with no wifi know about IT, and that is a huge feat in publicity.
Now, back to the growing tension of the cinema… The cinema was a beautiful, immersive environment with a wonderful screen and sound system to suck the audience into the film. The perfect setting for the experience that laid ahead of us.
In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’m not going to go discuss each and every moment of the film and spoil everything, but one question people have is whether the film is loyal to the books. In the important ways it does stay true… But, in a number of ways, NO. WAY. No ritual of Chud, no turtle, no pre-teen orgy, and a few other minor details were omitted, but those aren’t regrettable losses to the story. The film holds onto the core parts that give depth and quality to the story, while discarding the aspects that perhaps detracted from the quality or elements that, even King himself admits, are not necessary and seem, in this day and age, perhaps insensitily handled in the original works.
The film has the odd jumpscare sprinkled throughout, some less telegraphed than others, and there are moments of extreme gore, but the film focuses more on the psychological fear and building of the characters, making it take on the feel of a dark fantasy film, as opposed to an out and out horror.
One thing that caught me off guard was how funny the film was, with hilarious moments to lull the audience into a sense of security and get viewers invested in the friendship of the kids driving the plot forward.
The young cast portraying the protagonist central characters, only ranging between the ages of 8 and 15, are phenomenal talents, handling their roles with the professionalism of seasoned adults and the playful enthusiam of children. Their dramatic and comedic timing and handling are that of season actors twice their age and I hope to see all of them continue down long and successful career paths.
As well as holding ther own within their own roles, the chemistry between each other and Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise is rock solid and completely enthralling. That brings us to the frightening and endlessly fun character of Pennywise and his portrayal by the incredible Bill Skarsgard.
Cleary inspired by the performance of Tim Curry in the same role, Bill has taken the character of Pennywise the Dancing Clown and run with it, taking it down a wholey more sinister route and creating a portrayal that won’t soon be forgotten. With every detail, from the voice, to the way he holds his bottom lip, Bill has played with the role and learnt every inch of the character to bring together a performance that utilises his whole physicality – even down to odd little chokes and splutters during line deliveries and his ability to move his eyes independantly of each other. The hipnotically creepy performance can even keep my coulrophibic eyes locked on, thrilled and unable to turn away. Even if I were not interested in the actual story itself, I would still have been glad about seeing the film based purely off of the acting quality shown by the cast.
The behind the camera work on this film left little While so many aspects of the film deserve recognition, the main department I want to draw attention to is the costuming for It. Subtle story references hidden in items of costume, Pennywise’s terrifying and detailed getup, every element of costume design hits the nail on the head and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it recieve a lot of love come awards season!
So, all in all, It is a film well worth seeing for a variety of reasons – it was much better than i had anticipated and brought a lot more to the table than most horror films can deliver. This isn’t a really in-depth, piece-by-piece dissection of the film, just the humble opinion of a passionate movie-goer.
What did you think of IT? Leave your experience in the comments below, or join the conversation over on Facebook and Twitter!