IT is the first film in what will be at least a two part film series, covering the plot of Stephen King's 1100+ page famous horror novel about a group of friends who face off against unspeakable evil in their childhood, and then return to finish it off once they become adults. This film focuses solely on the childhood adventures of the 7 main characters. The movie begins on a rainy day in Derry, Maine, as Bill and Georgie are making a paper sailboat. Bill is too sick to go out on the rainy day, so Georgie takes the boat outside by himself to race it in the streams of water running along the streets. Suddenly, the boat takes a detour and runs into the sewers. Georgie thinks his boat is lost forever, until Pennywise the clown greets him from inside the sewer grate. Pennywise offers Georgie his boat, but when the child reaches for it, the clown grabs him by the arm, and the boy is never seen again. This kind of story is common in Derry, where school is just ending, and children are disappearing at an alarming rate. Over the summer, a group of 7 outcast kids team up to figure out what's happening to the missing children, and to face off against a monstrous evil that has plagued Derry for generations.
Most people are familiar with the basic plot of IT. Either they read the book, or saw the two-part mini-series from the 90s. They mostly recognize Tim Curry's benchmark creepy clown from that miniseries. There will be no big plot surprises for this movie. Compared to the miniseries, which was made for ABC prime-time television, the movie has a lot more gruesome violence, a ton of foul language, and some sexual themes, although it is still nowhere near as terrifying or graphic as the novel. The movie spends the first two thirds or so bouncing between the main characters, as they each have run-ins with Pennywise. There's a bit of character development, but it's just a bit rushed. The last third shows them band together to find and take down the clown.
The acting and writing are fine. The cast is mostly children, so there is a certain degree of child acting to deal with, but it's not distracting. My biggest gripe was that the movie's scare moments were pretty predictable, even not having read the novel or seen the miniseries in years. The new Pennywise certainly qualifies as a scary creepy clown, but 25 years after Tim Curry's clown, it's just not as impactful. Maybe for younger audiences who aren't familiar with Curry's Pennywise, this one will be scarier. The effects are generally good, although there are a few scenes that feel like stuff everyone's probably seen before, either in horror or action films.
Overall, if you're a fan of horror films or specifically of IT, you'll definitely want to see this. However, the movie didn't blow my mind as some sort of magnificent new rendition of the novel. It was good, and scary in parts, but not groundbreaking or magnificent.
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