Director: Andy Muschietti
Writer: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher and Finn Wolfhard
This film begins showing us two boys inside a room. The older boy is sick and played by Jaeden Lieberher. He is making a paper boat for his younger brother, played by Jackson Robert Scott. Lieberher tells him that to complete it; he needs Scott to go to the basement to get wax. Scott is scared of the basement, but does get what he is supposed to. Lieberher uses it to seal the paper and allow it float. Scott takes the boat out and puts it in the water that is draining toward the storm drains. He hits his head and his boat gets a lead on him, going into one of these drains. He thinks it is forever lost when Pennywise, the dancing clown, appears. He is played by Bill Skarsgård. He isn’t what he seems though and attacks Scott.
We jump almost a year into the future. We meet another boy who works on a farm with his grandpa. The boy is played by Chosen Jacobs. His parents have passed away and he is asked to kill the sheep on the farm with an air gun. He can’t do it and his grandfather scolds him for it.
The film then shifts to school for the last day and we meet the rest of the cast. Lieberher hangs out with Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer and Wyatt Oleff. Wolfhard is the comedian of the group. Grazer is a hypochondriac who has an overbearing mother and Oleff is a Jewish kid who is afraid of pretty much everything. We are also introduced to Sophia Lillis. She smokes and is bullied by the other girls. They spread rumors that she sleeps with everyone. There is also Jeremy Ray Taylor, who is a heavy-set new kid. Lillis is nice to him and warns him where the bullies are. Taylor has a huge crush on her.
We see Lieberher and his group have a run in with a local bully and his friends. The bully is played by Nicholas Hamilton. His friends are Jake Sim, Logan Thompson and Owen Teague. Hamilton has held off on Lieberher due to his brother going missing. We learn that there is a curfew for the city and a lot of children have been going missing. Hamilton goes to hit Lieberher when an officer looks over and stops him. This turns out to be the bully’s dad, played by Stuart Hughes.
All of these kids have run-ins with Hamilton. We see one with Jacobs where he goes down an alley to avoid him. When he does he sees something behind a locked door that reminds him of his past. When it opens, he sees Skarsgård. He is almost killed by Hamilton and that’s when he notices it isn’t real.
The rest of the group one by one has their encounters with Skarsgård. Taylor does research on this since he didn’t have friends and being the new kid. He learns that there is a high average of kids turning up missing here, much higher than the national average. What is going on here? Who is Skarsgård really? Can he be stopped or will these kids become another one of his victims?
Now I want to admit that I went a little bit vaguer in this synopsis than I normally want to, but I watched this film on the Thursday that it came out and didn’t want to spoil anything for those that haven’t seen it yet and are reading this. Plus on top of that, I have read the book and really enjoyed the original film, so I might have the tendency to fill in things that might not be explicit in the film and potentially spoil. Anyways, with that said, I loved this film. I thought he director Andy Muschietti and the writers, Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, did a great job at keeping the tone and feel of the original Stephen King novel, but updating it to 1989. Where the original was quite faithful to the novel, this film changes most of what happens, but keeps a lot of the important interactions there. I actually really like that they did that. It is hard, especially with fans of the original, to make a shot for shot remake. What they did with this film still made this very scary while adding humor when needed to lightly the mood. I was highly impressed with the story, the ending and how it all played out.
The acting from this film is amazing. I was concerned with Skarsgård and his portrayal of a character like Pennywise when Tim Curry killed it in the original. I think what is best is how Skarsgård plays it. He is going for much creepier where Curry went for a more comedic play. Skarsgård was fantastic. I actually think that the acting in this across the board was great as well. Lieberher really did great at playing the leader of the group and making his shutter seem real. I did find it interesting that his film changed Jacobs’ character from being new as well to being a homeschooled kid. It is also interesting that Jacobs’ character isn’t the one doing the research, but Taylor is. None of these changes really bother me, except that they really make Jacobs’ character obsolete in my opinion until the beginning of the end.
For this, I will touch upon the effects first. I thought they were very well done. If this film had CGI, I couldn’t tell and for me that means if it is there, it was extremely well done. They do some things with Skarsgård that really ramped up the tension and fear. The editing I thought was very close to being perfect as well. For a film that is 2 hours and 15 minutes long, I didn’t notice it. They have it paced where the action starts right up. Even when there isn’t interaction with Skarsgård, it is still building the tension with the story. I was highly impressed. I will admit that the score of the film didn’t stand out, but I know I felt it when scenes were tense.
Now with that said, I would highly recommend seeing this film. I was very impressed with what I said. This isn’t a shot-for-shot remake and actually changes most everything from the book and the original film, but it did it in a way that keeps King’s tone and still very scary. I thought the acting across the board was great. The editing of the film makes it feel fast despite its running time and builds tension until the climax. The effects of the film were good and the score, though it didn’t stand out to me, was good in making the scenes tense. The only negative I would say is that I know there is second half that hasn’t been released yet so that will bring my rating down a full point. Once that comes out and I can watch them both, I have a feeling this will go up. I would tell everyone to see this film, horror fan or not, because I think it is that well done.
My Rating: 9 out of 10
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Number 2: Blood Orgy of the She-Devils (1973)
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Number 3: Blood Freak (1972)
A biker comes upon a girl with a flat tire and offers her a ride home. He winds up at a drug party with the girl's sister, then follows her to a turkey farm owned by her father, a mad scientist. The father turn the biker into a giant turkey monster who goes after drug dealers. This horror, sci-fi film is the from the United States in the year 1972.
Number 4: Bloody Murder (2000)
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Number 5: Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)
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Number 6: Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966)
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