IT (2017) - No Birds or Planes Here

       

Released a timely 27 years in the wake of an original hit feature and, more recently, a box office killing, the new IT film has clearly arrived. Brought together by pubescent woes and freakish visions of a chalk-faced clown, a band of seven schoolyard odds-and-ends must put an end to the cycle of predation that plagues their 1980s suburban town. As the number of missing children continues to rise, the ‘Losers’ are terrorised by shape-shifting vaudeville Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) as they brave the sewers in search of his cannibalistic lair. Overflowing with youthful banter, nostalgia and fantastical horror, Muschietti’s film gives ITs 1990s predecessor a laxative of impish imagination.



Alongside the tremors with infantile voices and maniacal laughter, the narrative is kept company by sober piano work and panicky strings. Perched atop this razorblade of naivety and aggression, IT casts a creepy light on restrictive and neglected spaces – from homes dominated by day time TV and incompetent adults to condemned properties with kitsch welcome messages still etched over fireplaces. The progressive descent into the town’s underbelly of pipes and grey water further amplifies feelings of confusion and entrapment. As a tight ensemble, all of the child actors manage to win endearment and concern with a rare precision that recalls Stephen King’s Stand By Me. Towering over them as an outnumbered opponent, Skarsgard’s haunting Pennywise is a salivating and turbulent helter-skelter of gestures that brings to mind Lewis Carroll: ‘How cheerfully he seems to grin, how neatly spreads his claws. And welcomes little fishes in with gently smiling jaws.’



While the authenticity of its jump scares sometimes buckles under the heavy handed clanging of percussion, the film also makes ample use of moments of silence and allows frightening sights to take precedence. In addition, it takes full advantage of themes of mental trickery by toying with absurd and dysmorphic sequences that echo the adrenalized childish worries that all of us have to some degree. Balancing shot-for-shot matches with more unique twists, IT is the opposite of the S.S. Georgie; it sails beyond expectations and makes for a choppy, exciting ride.





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