Saturday night a friend, myself, and several member of the San Diego chapter of the HWA went to a screening of IT. I have not seen the 1990 adaptation nor have I read the book so my review is based solely upon the screenings I attended.
IT is based on the mid-1980s horror novel by Steven King and the story had been previously adapted in 1990 into a two part miniseries. The story concerns a group of just barely pre-teen adolescents of outcasts and misfits that call themselves ‘The Losers Club.’ When they discover that the rash of child disseverances currently plaguing the town of Derry Maine is the works on dark supernatural forces, they take active control of their lives and battle the demonic force. The’ big bad’ takes the form of Pennywise, The Dancing Clown making this a particularly difficult film for those that find clowns inherently creepy or frightening. The original story dealt with two plot line the Loser Club as children dealing with Pennywise and a 27 years later as adult when they discover that Pennywise has returned. The film wisely adapts only the children’s story then attempt too much in a single film.
The movie works well enough. It has plenty of suspenseful scenes that work, it has a number of jump scares that are well timed and effective and utilizing an ‘R’ rating it does not shy away from the more graphic elements of horror. . While all of the on screen talent is good and credible in their performances it is Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise that dominates the film. That said for me the film’s ending didn’t quite find its target. I do not think that this is an artifact of the split storyline. Plenty of questions are raised about the town of Derry and Pennywise but very few are any are truly answered. From what I know of the novel the adult storyline barely answer these questions either. Perhaps the sequel will tie this up, and after a 117 million dollar opening weekend there will be a sequel, but I can only judge this film on its own merits. The movie works, I enjoyed seeing it, but the lack of a strong ending weakens the presentation and it is not going to be joining the other horror films in my library.