Ever wondered where Pennywise got their name from? Well, before they started singing about how best to fuck authority, they must have read Stephen King’s novel It at some point. Arguably one of King’s best books (and that’s saying a lot), It has been terrifying kids for decades and now gets to keep on doing so on the big screen under the guise of Argentine director Andy Muschietti (Mama).
Children have been disappearing in the small town of Derry, Maine. A lot of them. One of them is six-year-old Georgie, who was last seen chasing his paper boat as it sails down the gutter and straight into a storm drain. Georgie really likes his boat because he got it from his older brother Bill (Midnight Special’s Jaeden Lieberher), who keeps on looking for his kid brother even when everyone else seems to move on.
Along with the rest of his friends (affectionately known as the Losers Club), Bill keeps on digging until they come across Pennywise, an evil clown who has been preying on kids for a long time. Played by Bill Skarsgard, Pennywise is a formidable foe who likes to toy with his victims before erupting into violence. Skarsgard does a great job of not hamming it up like Tim Curry did in the 1990 TV miniseries. And there really is no need to overdo it. Clowns are already scary as fuck.
The best thing about It however is the camaraderie between the members of the Losers Club. There’s a lot of Stand By Me going on here, while younger viewers might think of Stranger Things and Dark, two recent shows that owe a hell of a lot to Stephen King’s books. Made up of the trash-talking Richie (Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard), the mama’s boy Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), the jumpy Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), the bulky new kid Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs), the only black kid in town, Bill’s posse ultimately gets rounded out by Beverly (Sophie Lillis), the crew’s only female member. And we get to know them well as – contrary to the book – the movie doesn’t jump back and forth in time and sticks with the eighties instead.
It’s one of many smart choices Muschietti made and it makes It a very enjoyable King adaptation. Okay, the finale might not be as good as I hoped it would be, but It sure beats the crime against humanity that was The Dark Tower.