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Review: IT -“A perfectly cast tour de force of terror”

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Twenty-seven years after the Tim Curry TV version gave us all collective life-long nightmares comes a new theatrical version of IT – directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama), and written by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle: Creation), based on the novel by Stephen King (The Shining).

Derry is a small town where bad things happen. A lot. Adults are murdered or go missing at six times the national average. For kids it’s worse. And the Summer that pre-nagers Bill (Jaeden Lieberher – Midnight Special), Richie (Finn Wolfhard – Stranger Things), Bev (Sophia Lillis – 37), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor – Ant-Man), Mike (Chosen Jacobs – Hawaii Five-O), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer – Tales of Halloween) and Stan (Wyatt Oleff – Guardians of the Galaxy) come together to form “The Loser’s Club” there is a rash of child abductions – including Bill’s little brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott – Skin).

Georgie’s fate in the pre-title sequence is heart-breaking, terrifying and utterly brutal. Muschietti is setting his stall out straight away, and showing us that he means business, and that this new, much-discussed version of Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård – Hemlock Grove) don’t play. Major studio release and 15 rating be damned, Muschietti and Pennywise have combined to make a film that is completely petrifying and constantly pushing at the bounds of what is get-away-with-able in a non-18 Warner Bros. picture. Steve felt the same as me in his review, but Adam was disappointed with the film in his review.

Every Pennywise appearance is absolutely horrific. Skarsgård creating a portrayal that is totally his own and the stuff of nightmares. Luring children to him with a constantly breaking squeaking clown voice and the promise of balloons and cotton candy, you can still see drool drip from his chops as he waits to feed on the fear he is about to put into his young prey.

Channeling and conjuring his victims dread triggers, Pennywise can manifest as a leprous hobo, or even a dead little brother; as well as being in the dead and ignorant eyes of the adults – townspeople and parents alike – who have ignored the festering evil for years and allowed it to indulge its taste for children.

But when the Loser’s band together to fight the clown before they are next, Pennywise is anxious that the group will be able to defeat him if they do not fear him (much like other horror icon Freddy Krueger), so he sets out to focus on this potential threat – putting unrelenting frighteners on the gang and also recruiting psychotic school bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton – Captain Fantastic) to murder them.

The kids are all excellent, with Lillis a major stand out and Wolfhard making the absolute most of getting all the best lines. It is not just Wolfhard’s presence that evokes memories of Stranger Things – IT is full of spot-on kidz bantz as well as a killer soundtrack and plenty of arcades, BMX’s and choppers. Updating the kids section of the novel from the 50s to the 80s also makes the film resonate a lot more, which coupled with it being impossible to not fall in love with every member of The Loser’s Club means you are so invested that when the threats and shocks, and loves and losses, snap and bite they do so twice as hard.

“Nope: The Movie”, IT is a perfectly cast tour de force of terror that will both please and surprise fans of the novel, while also still scaring the heck out of absolutely anyone brave enough to go and see it.

It is released in the UK on the 8th of September.

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