It is a 2017 horror film, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman and directed by Andy Muschietti. The film stars Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer and Chosen Jacobs. Set in the town of Derry in the midst of the disappearances of multiple children, the Losers Club sets out to find out what happened to the little brother of one of their own. In the process they discover the violent and terrible history of the town and the cause of it and must face Pennywise the Clown in an attempt to save their home.
This film is far more comedic than could have been expected given that it is a horror and judging from the trailers. Perhaps it was carried over from the original novel or the 90’s mini-series, but this reviewer has no experience with either. It is far funnier than films that are actually supposed to be comedies. So much that you forget that it’s a horror and you’re supposed to be scared.
That being said, the humour doesn’t overshadow or nullify the tension and suspense that the film manages to masterfully create. The filmmakers truly did a spectacular job in making the audience feel tension, even in the humorous moments. The two were very well balanced and it’s rare that a film can make you laugh even as you’re gripping your seat.
The humour really comes from the characters, Richard especially, who is easily the best of all of the members of the Losers Club. He’s totally irreverent, constantly making penis, sex and ” your mom” jokes (sometimes in one joke) and talks far too much But it’s all part of his charm and what makes him so very likeable. Although Bill is arguably the main character, the one we are to sympathise with and the catalyst for the Club’s adventure, it is Richie that you latch onto immediately.
Of course, all of the members of the Losers Club are funny in their own way, but he is the one who makes the biggest impression. The others, especially Eddie and Stan, but perhaps except Bill and Bev, are funny because of how they react to things.
Pennywise himself is also a very hilarious character. His dance near the end is probably the best part of the film. It’s an apt thing to say about a clown, that he’s hilarious; they’re supposed to make you laugh. Except you don’t particularly expect Pennywise to be funny because he’s a killer clown. The most distinct thing about his characterisation is that he really likes to screw with people. He has to because [SPOILER; Highlight to reveal] he needs to scare people and consume their fear [SPOILER] but the sheer joy he seems to take in it is amusing, as is the way he goes about it sometimes.
A great deal of credit must be given to the main actors in this film. Those who play the members of the Losers Club (list them) and Bill Skarsgård who plays Pennywise.. Amazing performances all around.
It’s no surprise to anyone who watched Stranger Things that Finn Wolfhard does an excellent job here playing a character so different from Mike. One hardly, if ever, thinks of him as “the kid from Stranger Things” and sees him only as Richie. The rest of the child actors are relative unknowns compared to him, but are just as talented. They are incredibly charismatic for performers so young, give their characters such life and believability, emote very, very well and truly embody their characters. Praise must also be given to Nicholas Hamilton who played the bully Henry.
Bill Skarsgard is excellent in portraying the menace of Pennywise and the humour of him too. He has such a presence on screen and in some ways steals every scene that he’s in. He gives such an enigmatic character, that has virtually no development, a lot of personality. Particularly in his physical performance. The best example of the deftness with which he plays Pennywise, in particular with how he uses his face, is the opening scene.
There is a very clear deliniation between the frist and second half of the film. So clear that the transition between the two felt like the film was winding down in preparation for it to end. I t didn’t help that that happened after a climactic scene. It had really picked up speed which then petered out fairly quickly.
It was, however, somewhat necessary in order to give the audience a moment to breath. The film, perhaps, would have been exhausting without it. Afterward, it gained tranction almost as quickly as it lost it as it went into the climax, which reached greater heights than the scene prior to the wind down.
Aside from serving a purpose in the pacing of the film, it also worked with the narrative since [SPOILER; Highlight to reveal] the Losers Club was able to regroup, using what they had learned, in order to “defeat” Pennywise by all of them conquering their fears [SPOILER].
It is a fantastic film. After the disappointment that was The Dark Tower, Stephen King really needed a win and he more than got one. The team behind this film truly succeeded in crafting a film that excelled more or less across the board. The sequel can’t come soon enough.