Plot: After the death of his brother Georgie, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) has struggled to cope and feels helpless in the wake of the tragic loss. In his mind, Georgie is just missing and as numerous other children have vanished of late, there is always the slight chance, but it seems improbable. He has developed a theory of sorts, that if George was swept into the storm drain, then he just needs to follow that path. To that end, he has recruited his friends to help him look into the situation, but no one seems keen to do so, out of fear of what they might discover. Bill’s circle of friends is a colorful band of misfits, which has expanded of late, after lending a hand to some kids being tormented by the local gang of bullies. As the kids talk and share stories, they slowly reveal they have all seen some strange things of late, including one common element, a sinister clown that stalks them at every turn. These visions can’t be seen by adults, but terrify the kids, from lepers to blood drenched bathrooms to Bill’s horrific encounter with something that pretended to be Georgie. When they learn that their home town seems to be cursed by a dark force that strikes every twenty-seven years, the kids are drawn into a cat & mouse game with the clown. In an effort to put an end to the clown’s reign of terror, they take a stand, but will fear conquer their efforts to defeat this mysterious evil?
Entertainment Value: I am no fan of remakes or reboots, but in the case of It, I wasn’t too worried. The original was a made for television mini-series, which isn’t the ideal format for a horror tale, right? The lone issue I had was that Tim Curry’s Pennywise was such a great performance, it seemed unlikely that whoever landed as Pennywise could fill those clown shoes. As it turns out, this first chapter of It improves upon the original in most ways, but as expected, our main villain just doesn’t have the same bite. I found this new spin on Pennywise to be just another cliche creepy clown, always trying to be eerie and trying way too hard in the process. Not to mention the excessive CGI that saturates most of the clown’s later scenes. But outside of Pennywise, It is a vast improvement over the original. The kids seem more natural and are given more depth, while the spooky elements pack more of a punch, with the tv restrictions lifted. We also see more of the darkness in the lives of the children’s private lives, but of course, still not to the depths of the novel itself. The movie has excellent atmosphere, not just in terms of horror, but the entire world the kids live within. The sense of dread is palpable, but so is the bond in the circle of friends, with some great humor to break up the darkness. I might not be a fan of this vision of Pennywise, but aside from that, It is a lot of fun and surpasses the original in most ways.
No nakedness. The book has some…colorful scenes that involve sexual content, but none of those were adapted to the screen here. The blood quotient is passable, but as you might expect, a good deal of the gore is CGI. Given the dreamlike encounters with It, the surreal feel of the violence dampens the CGI’s plague, but it still often distracts just by how poorly it comes across. Some of the effects look fine, such as the various visions of fear that are conjured up to frighten the kids, with the weird Mama inspired painting lady as a highlight of mine. The visuals provide some memorable moments, including a brief look at the deadlights, but I wish either more time was taken to polish the CGI, or creative practical effects could have been used more. Even so, some nice creepy scenes despite some unimpressive digital effects work. The dialogue is good, much better than I had expected. The banter between the kids feels organic and provides most of the good lines in this one. Pennywise has some creepy goodness, but the performance feels so forced to me, so they lost some luster. Of course, good old Richie seems to bring home the most quotable lines, which is no surprise. As far as craziness, not much unexpected happens and things never tumble off the deep end. So solid horror elements, but it feels tethered and never running off the rails.
Overall Insanity: 0/10