Being a fan of scary movies, I’d like to think my taste in horror is quite refined. I often laugh in the face of jump scares and am generally one of those annoying people yelling at the screen or making fun of the (usually) bad acting and poorly written dialogue. I pride myself on being hard to scare and even harder to impress when it comes to horror movies. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a “B” movie, but I do long for a movie that can get my adrenaline flowing. It was that and more.
Set in 1988 Maryland, It focuses on a group of friends who lovingly refer to themselves as The Losers’ Club; they’re a group of outsiders and misfits who find themselves coming together to defeat an evil child-eating-shape-shifting clown who pops up in the town of Derry every 27 years.
The Losers’ Club
The Loser’s Club is without a doubt the best part about this movie; the fact that this production could gather a group of kids that all have the acting chops this group possesses is nothing short of extraordinary. There isn’t a weak link in the bunch; each child gets their time to shine and endear themselves to the audience. Almost immediately you empathize with each kid and find yourself hoping that they’ll survive whatever horror they’re about to encounter. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I’m going to anyway. Finn Wolfhard’s portrayal of Richie Tozier has to be my favorite of the bunch. Maybe it’s because I like to consider myself the class clown of my own bunch (I’M the funny one!), maybe it’s because Wolfhard has already earned a spot in my heart from my obsession with Stranger Things, or maybe the kid is just that freaking good. Whatever the reason, I found myself hoping for more Richie and am very interested to see who they cast as his adult counterpart.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown
I’ll admit, when I first saw the images of Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise, I wasn’t too impressed. He was too clean and polished and not at all intimidating. Now having seen Mr. Skarsgard in action, I can fully admit how wrong I was. If Tim Curry’s Pennywise is Jack Nicholson’s Joker, then Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise is Heath Ledger’s Joker. The direction of the clown was not one I was expecting; he doesn’t start off ominous and intimidating, he’s playful and funny and a little bit charming. That is, until he reveals his teeth and rips little Georgie’s arm off. He continues to be whimsical and bouncy while trying to scare the bejeezus out of the Losers’ Club, and I found myself starting to really love the direction the character was taking. We got to see a lot of Pennywise in this movie which kind of confused me at first. It seemed to me that the more they showed him the less scary he became, but I think that was kind of the point. When he’s in the shadows and shape-shifting he makes you cover your eyes and jump out of your seat, but when he’s himself and trying to win a 7-on-1 fight against a bunch of pissed off kids, he’s kind of pathetic. You find yourself less afraid of him as the movie goes on just like the Losers’ Club does.
One of the most annoying things about scary movies is the reliance on jump scares; It has its fair share of jump scares, but it’s the kind of movie, a la The Exorcist, that keeps you on the edge of your seat even during the daylight scenes. Each scene in which the kids encounter Pennywise has its own unique feel and some work very well (the library chase scene) and some don’t quite get there (the leper which was very The Walking Dead). The music certainly helps set the mood, maybe a little more that it should, but it never gets in the way of the overall uneasiness one feels throughout the entire movie. Each encounter scene was also offset with some sort of comedy from the kids which let the audience breath for a second before we turned the next corner to be scared all over again. The is the kind of movie you MUST see in the movie theater; there were moments where I could literally hear the entire theater gasp for air after any particularly chilling scene.
I am a huge fan of the original (even though it doesn’t exactly hold up to my childhood nightmares) and went into this with VERY high expectations. I’ve been burned before (looking at you Poltergeist remake) and tried to stay cautiously optimistic. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my mother whom I dragged along, my hopes were met and exceeded with this frightening yet hilarious and oddly touching adaptation of the Stephen King classic. Splitting this book into two movies is one of the few times I felt was necessary; the book is notoriously lengthy and you just can’t fit all of that mischief and mayhem into one 2 ½ hour movie. Chapter 2 is supposed to begin production very shortly, and I can‘t wait to see who will be cast as the adult versions of our Losers. It is not without its flaws and, no, it’s not going to change the face of horror as we know it, but I will say this is the most fun that I’ve had at the movies in a long time.