Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2017. New Line Cinema, KatzSmith Productions, Lin Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment. Screenplay by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman, based on the novel by Stephen King. Cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung. Produced by Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Barbara Muschietti. Music by Benjamin Wallfisch. Production Design by Claude Pare. Costume Design by Janie Bryant. Film Editing by Jason Ballantine. Washington Film Critics Awards 2017.
The children of Derry are finished school and ready for a fun summer, which is about to be ruined by a menace in their charming town: a scary clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård, whose Swedish accent is never explained) is capturing and devouring children. Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is obsessed with the disappearance of his little brother (which we see in a terrifying opening sequence) and convinces his three best friends to forego the fun of summer and accompany him to the town’s creepiest locations for clues as to the boy’s whereabouts. Their voyage teams them up with a couple more loners and a girl surviving domestic sexual abuse on journey that exposes them to something way worse than the bullies who terrorize them at school in this endlessly entertaining and, at times, genuinely very scary adaptation of half of one of Stephen King’s most popular novels. The technological upgrade since the television miniseries of 1990 provides richer and deeper investigation of the story’s more imaginative indulgences, while director Andy Muschietti keeps the film’s healthy running time on track without ever letting the pace drag. The film is too obviously inspired more by the success of the Netflix series Stranger Things than King’s book, (with cast member Finn Wolfhard stolen as proof), but the excellent dialogue and more than a few good chills are enough to let it succeed on its own.