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“It” looks to become the rare blockbuster horror outing

Horror films often are treated as the red headed stepchild of the cinematic world. Whether it’s a lack of awards viability or just an absence of respect, it’s the genre treated the worst by Hollywood. This week, however, we have a major attempt at changing that with the release of It. The well regarded Stephen King book has only ever been tried on the small screen before, so this big screen outing is something new. That makes it part adaptation and part remake, but hardly a retread. Initially, this was even marked with a bit of prestige, which is rare. Now, the final product is not going to be nominated for any awards, but genre fans will likely flock to theaters in order to watch Pennywise the Clown terrorize the town of Derry.

The film is, as just mentioned, a remake of the TV movie of the same name, as well as a new adaptation of King’s novel. We follow a group of bullied/outcast kids who have to band together when a demonic monster that takes the form of a clown returns to their town to hunt children. Known as Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), the clown feasts on the fear of the young people in the town of Derry every few decades, beginning this time with young Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott). The loss of Georgie haunts his older brother Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher). Bound together with Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff), who all see Pennywise, they form a group dedicated to defeating the clown. That is, if it doesn’t get them first. Andy Muschietti directs the adaptation, penned by Gary Dauberman, Cary Fukunaga (who originally was directing and retains a screenplay credit), and Chase Palmer. The supporting cast includes Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Owen Teague, Logan Thompson, and more. Chung-hoon Chung is behind the camera for cinematography, while the score is from Benjamin Wallfisch.

Fans will be delighted by It, and so far, almost all pundits have been too. Unfortunately, I’m an outlier here. While the character based work is solid, the scares were nonexistent to me. Pennywise is overly done with CGI as well, limiting his effectiveness, despite an admittedly committed turn by Skarsgård. Throw in how telegraphed the scares are, as well as the film being about a half hour too long, and I was actually pretty disappointed. This is a minority opinion, of course, but the raves are not quite universal for this one. Perhaps Fukunaga would have done a bit more with it, but Muschietti’s final product left something to be desired, at least for yours truly. It’s not a bad flick by any stretch, but I was just let down.

As a bonus, here are what I feel are the best King adaptations so far:

10. Apt Pupil
9. Pet Cemetery
8. Secret Window
7. 1408
6. Carrie
5. The Green Mile
4. Misery
3. Stand By Me
2. The Shining
1. The Shawshank Redemption

Honorable Mention: Cujo, The Dead Zone, Dolores Claiborne, It, and The Running Man

Overall, Friday brings the rare blockbuster horror outing in It. Box office records for the early fall season could be shattered by this one, at least for R rated fright flicks. Expect this to play very well to audiences, though any kind of awards love is probably laughable. This is not that type of film, plain and simple. If you’re an It fan, either the book or the original TV movie, there’s a good chance you’ll love what Fukunaga began and Muschietti finished. There’s room for all versions of It in the world. Give the film a shot and see what you think…

Be sure to check out It, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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