Summary: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.
I’m actually surprised at myself that I saw this, by myself, I don’t like scary movies and I don’t like clowns BUT I was curious because 1. I like Finn Wolfhard (I love Stranger Things), 2. I liked what I saw in the trailers dealing with the kids and their stories. I’m always interested in human stories, friendships and of course I always want to see kid actors since they’re not always good lol. Plus, I was curious. But I saw it. I never read the book nor have I seen the Tim Curry version but I know bits and pieces of the story, this review is for this movie, not in relation to the book or the mini series.
Cast and Characters. So I’m going to go through the kids first, by putting them in order of my favorites then I’ll talk about Pennywise.
Finn Wolfhard as Richard “Richie” Tozier. Richie is Bill’s best friend, he is a loud mouth and foul mouthed. He wears these big glasses (I don’t know if it’s because Finn’s eyes are just big but these glasses made his eyes look HUGE, I kind of cracked up the first time he showed up but he’s so cute lol) and he’s always talking. He’s that kid that always has something to say, always a joke which aren’t always funny, or at least his friends don’t always laugh, or it’s an insult which they still don’t find funny. I found him funny. He is usually the one who is always ready, or up for the adventure even if he says he’s not, his actions speak otherwise at least. We don’t actually see much of his home life compared to the others but I can’t help but wonder if he has issues at home too which causes him to be so foul mouthed. I really like Finn Wolfhard, he’s a very good young actor. He handled himself so well in this role, with how he speaks and even with what’s going on (even though it is similar to Stranger Things) and he just was very likable. I cracked a smile or laughed every time he said something, he had very good comedic timing. He was my favorite. Two of his best scenes were towards the end, he has this great speech during the big fight and then the scene where he finds the “missing” poster of himself in the creepy house. Great acting moments from Finn.
Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak. Definitely the hypochondriac of the group, he is always talking about germs, and how they could get sick. Always gagging at stuff, it’s kind of funny actually. He definitely believes he’s sick and feeds into it but it’s easy to tell that he feels his best when he’s with the group. He also seems like he’s a momma’s boy but not necessarily by choice. I really liked Eddie and Jack Grazer had fantastic comedic timing, I think he was the smallest of the group but he had some really BIG moments. “THESE ARE GAZEBOS!”
Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh. She’s the only girl in the group but she forms a strong friendship with Ben in the beginning. At least from what we know, Bev’s home life is the worst, she has to deal with a father who wants her to always be “his little girl”, and she is also bullied by some of the local girls. Her first scene is pretty great. She is brave, strong and kind of reserved but knows how to do her thing when it calls for it. She also knows how to use her young beauty to her advantage. I liked Bev a lot, her connection with the boys, outside of the whole crush that Bill and Ben have on her, I think she stood her own and managed to stand out. Sophia Lillis was great, she’s beautiful, the scene where she cuts her hair is a great emotional scene and I love how even though she was invited, she does just insert herself into the group so well. Sophia does despair and strength so well.
Jaeden Lieberher as William “Bill” Denbrough. He is the leader of the Loser’s Club, which I can’t help but wonder if he started it, if he and Richie started it or how that all came about. I want to know. But anyway, he refuses to believe that Georgie is dead, but missing. He wants to find him and is determined to find out what happened truly. However, as things are revealed, his strength just grows and he truly becomes a leader. It’s easy to see that he doesn’t feel great in his home anymore, his parents have “moved on” though not in the healthy way. Bill just wants the truth. Jaeden is also very good. The way his stutter was just part of his character and not something he was putting on, or the way he handled his fear, his want to find his little brother, the way he wanted to lean on his friends to stand by him, but how he also leaded the group. Two stand out moments was when he gave his speech before going into the house and at the end, it’s a kind of tender but terrifying moment.
Wyatt Oleff as Stanley “Stan” Uris. So I read the little description about him in the wiki and maybe in the book or miniseries that made sense, but here, not really. I never really thought of Stan being a germaphobe (Eddie more likely) and a bird person. Would never know that. But anyway, he definitely seem though to be the quiet one AND the voice of reason at times. He seemed like he was older than the others but he also had his issues. He was working on his bar mitzvah so I guess he was technically younger than the others, but anyway, his father seemed a bit hard on him, especially about learning the song he’s supposed to know and he’s a bit uptight himself. To be honest, I am curious about Stan. There wasn’t much to learn about him but I was curious. I thought Wyatt Oleff was good, there were times when it seemed like he was trying too hard but he was the strong silent type unless he was scared or telling Richie to hush lol.
Jeremy Ray Taylor as Benjamin “Ben” Hanscom. He is the chubby on out of the group. He starts off not having any friends, he meets Bev on the last day of school but he ultimately is a loner. He spends all of his time in the library and reading history about the town. Ben definitely seems like he likes history and reading. He’s also a bit on the quiet side but he usually always speaks up. He is bullied and the way he’s treated it pretty terrible. Ben is also really sweet and thoughtful, his crush on Bev is really cute and I think he probably is closest to her out the others. Jeremy Taylor is fine, he’s not bad, his character is likable and he keeps him that way.
Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon. The only black kid in the group, he is homeschooled and lives on a farm outside of the town. He is terrorized by the bullies due to him being black. He doesn’t necessarily want to be on the farm or do what they want him to do, but it seems it might be something he’ll easily fall into. He’s the biggest one and seems to be the strongest physically, his fear compared to everyone else is based off of something he actually witnessed. He comes into the group late but he fits in as being an outsider too. I like Chosen Jacobs name first of all, and I think he’s good, he definitely is the strong one and he a few moments where he shows that.
Bill Skarsgard as It/ Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Some type of evil that awakens every 27 years. He’s not human, the clown is just a form he takes on, we don’t even know what his true form is. He is a shapeshifter as he is able to change into a child’s fear to make them afraid and the clown thing is because for one (and to some) clowns are happy and inviting beings (psht) so he’s able to bring them in that way too BUT I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he enjoys being the clown, it’s just fun and funny to him. There is a childish nature to him (which is even more creepy) and that shows in some of the things he does, or the way he talks to them… sometimes. Bill Skarsgard is amazing here. Not only is the makeup creepy but it’s what he does with his face and his body. The weird thing he does with his eyes, the way they look off kilter, Bill Skarsgard actually does that. Creepy. It’s also interesting how they portray his change of nature. When he’s being inviting his eyes are blue and his voice is all kind of high and squeaky like but when he’s being evil and what not, they turn red/orange. Pennywise is also in your face, he doesn’t skulk, I mean he will, but he will also just show up and be like “Yo…” which makes him even scarier to me.
Supporting Characters. There are a lot of supporting characters in this film, and people like Eddie’s mom, or Bev’s father have their roles, they are the disturbing adults in this town. I don’t know if it’s because it’s how the kids view them (well Bev’s father is terrible regardless) but I mean in how they look, they all look kind of off. The kids seems like the only decent people in this town. But there is of course two that have to be mentioned.
Nicholas Hamilton as Henry Bowers. The leader of the Bowers gang, they terrorize the Losers Club. He is seriously disturbed. Kid got issues which we learn more about towards the end of the film, before the climax, which explains a lot actually. He does really terrible and creepy stuff, in a way, he’s definitely a very big villain of this film. His gang pick on the Losers for various things but there really isn’t a reason. I’ve seen Nicholas Hamilton in Captain Fantastic and he was very good in that, and I thought he was very good here, way scary though.
Jackson Robert Scott as George “Georgie” Denbrough. Such a cute kid, he actually reminded me a bit of Eric Lloyd, but he’s an innocent little 7-year-old boy, brother to Bill and unfortunately he meets Pennywise while playing outside (by himself I might add) in a rain storm with a paper boat. It’s what happens to him that puts everything into perspective for Bill and what starts the story. Jackson Scott was adorable, the moments where he had to be a little specter or whatever to Bill, was kind of unsettling because he was so good at it. Man.
The Friendship. This is what I really wanted to see the movie for anyway is the friendship between the kids. I love seeing a good film about kid friendships and seeing how that grows and how they bond. It can be so pure, plus not to mention seeing their chemistry. I thought they had a lot of chemistry with each other, the entire group, which I’m sure has to do with the fact that they’re friends outside of the film. I think it was very interesting how they played off each other, also their roles in their group. It felt real. I liked how each of them fit into the group and while they annoyed each other, fought with each other, in the end, they knew they needed each other.
The Tension/Buildup. This movie does the buildup and tension so well. Outside of Ritchie until later on, each person gets their scare early on in the film and we get to spend a moment with them in that fear and the buildup to seeing Pennywise, or seeing whatever entity he’s turned into was done really well. There aren’t any Jump Scares really, you see when something is coming, it’s in the shadow, or Pennywise literally shows up and you know he’s there and then he’ll do something scary. I think there are only really two jump scares, maybe three. I get scared easily (though I took everything in this film!!) but I appreciated that nothing was really like “BOO!” popped out of the corner, you see it happening which I guess in a way is a lot scarier lol.
It’s Terrifying. I do think this movie is terrifying. If you don’t scare easily then it probably won’t bother you but I was scared lol and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. The way the adults are portrayed as these “other” people, how they watch things, or how they react to the kids, definitely is scary in it’s own right. Pennywise of course is scary, the fears he shows to the kids is scary and I think that’s a good thing. You’re like part of the Losers Club experiencing fear as well. Plus, the imagery is there.
The Story. I think the story is very interesting, most the reason why I wanted to see the film because the story intrigues me. The fact that this thing feeds on children (because they’re easy) by portraying their fears is interesting, it’s like the Boggart and in a way the Dementors in Harry Potter. The fact that these kids take it upon themselves to figure out this mystery to learn it, it’s amazing and they’re actually competent! I really can’t wait to see what they do in Chapter two with them being adults, I also hope that they keep the kids and do flashbacks because they were fantastic!
The Kids’ Stories. We got to know these kids and their lives, for the most part, which makes it easy to get attached to them and you don’t want any of them to die as a movie goer. We get a nice look into Beverly’s life, we probably see her life the most, then Bill and Eddie’s and a little bit of Stan’s lives. We see why the may fear the things they fear, or why they act they way they do, or how they act a certain way to keep their home life from affecting their lives with their friends. I actually want to know more… but I’m definitely not reading the book lol.
The Humor. This film is really funny which helped me take it a bit more. It’s not like scary scene then funny moment, at least not all the time. I don’t think that makes the movie have a identity crisis but it helps and it’s realistic because that is how it is in real life. You see something scary or something scary happens and if it didn’t hurt you, you more or less try to forget about it because you don’t want to keep thinking about it. But anyway, I got sidetracked, I think the kids are really funny, the things they say, the faces they make, it really helped kind of balance out the terror.
The Look of the Film. The film looks beautiful. I don’t want scary movies so I can’t compare how this looks to how other scary movies look but I thought it looked really good. The scene at the end where the Losers Club is in the circle, that entire scene was absolutely beautifully lit. Whenever they are outside it always looks beautiful.
Mike’s Involvement. So I will talk more about this in my spoiler review, but honestly, while I liked Mike and thought Chosen Jacobs was fine, Mike could honestly be plucked right out of the group and it wouldn’t change anything. He’s really just a token here. I know about his original story in the book and mini series, and the fact that they took away what really made him important to their story and gave it to Ben without giving him something else to have or do to make him not be just the token was foul. Even without my knowledge of his role, I still think he was just there. He was the only one I guess who could handle himself in that scene at the well in the house but still… foul.
CGI Issues. Not all of the CGI in the film looked good, it wasn’t often bad or anything but there were a few times where I would go ‘Oh that wasn’t good’.
The Kid’s Stories. While I think this is a pro in a way, it’s also a con in how other stories were hardly explored or even talked about. I guess in some ways it doesn’t matter but it did to me. We spent a lot of time at Beverly house (not that I really minded) but I wanted to know about how things were at Richie’s house, or Ben’s house with his parents. Did everyone’s parents look like they were hiding something, or looked like they were off… I want to know! Plus, I want to know why Richie feels the need to talk so much and why his fear is what it is. The others we got to know at least some way, why they had their fears. It just felt uneven in learning certain reasons why. But again, I’m not reading the book lol maybe we’ll learn more in Chapter two.
Overall, my curiosity got the best of me and I saw the film. I really liked it and I would watch it again (must be a glutton for punishment). I thought the kids were fantastic and really held the film together, their chemistry with each other, how real it felt, their humor. Bill Skarsgard was good and creepy as Pennywise, dude might just haunt my nightmares (I’m hoping he won’t though). The buildup and tension in this film is handled really well and it is terrifying but I mean if you’re not easily scared it might not bother you, but if you are then I’m sure it’ll be scary to you. Learning about the kids as the film continued was interesting as well. However, there are some minor issues, I think Mike’s involvement was just there and I think taking away what made his character important without really giving him something else to do was foul. I didn’t like how we didn’t learn about other characters in the Losers Club, mostly Richie I guess thinking about it and maybe Ben because I thought his fear was a bit random. Lastly, some of the CGI was a lot a bit weird. But again, I liked the movie.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen IT yet? Have you read the book? How different is the film to the book?