The biggest horror hit of the year — and one of the most successful films overall — was director Andrés Muschietti’s riveting adaptation of the Stephen King novel It. The story was previously brought to the screen in a fondly remembered 1990 ABC mini-series that featured Tim Curry and John Ritter in the cast. That work is fantastic in its own right, but due to the fact that it was produced for television, much of the intense content and violence of the book had to be toned down. This wasn’t the case with Muschietti’s take on the material, and as a result viewers get to see the most unhinged and absolutely terrifying clown ever to be featured in any pop culture work. (Which is saying A LOT).
The film is set in the seemingly sleepy town of Derry, Maine. It seems that every 27 years the children of the town are stalked by a monstrous entity that takes the guise of Pennywise, a dancing circus clown who lures local youth to their death. When a 13-year-old (Jaeden Lieberher) loses his beloved younger brother to the evil force, he and his fellow misfits — known collectively as the Loser’s Club — attempt to overcome their fears and troubles to defeat Pennywise.
To say anymore would give away the movie’s surprises and unnerving thrills, but the cast, consisting of relative newcomers like Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, deliver incredibly realistic performances. It is more than just a blockbuster adaptation of a best-seller, it is a haunting reflection on childhood trauma and the power of friendship that will stick with you long after the movie ends.
Stephen King’s “It” will be released on January 9th.