First Hit: Although the characters were engaging and well defined, this film was uninteresting, long and lacked suspense.
It is sad when a film bills itself as horror and it doesn’t create any such feeling. Although the character “It” (AKA Pennywise) was appropriately evil looking, the jerky back and forth movement when it tried to be scary came off as pressed and silly.
As a set-up, the town of Derry, where the film takes place, has a history of young kids going missing and the town doesn't seem to concerned about this.
The kids in this film were distinctly defined. The tough bully kids, led by a policeman’s son named Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), was sufficiently mean. His angst and bully ways came from the way his father treated him.
The group of nerds were perfectly developed with their own backgrounds and reasons for being part of the nerd group.
The story begins with a young boy Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) folding a piece of paper to make a boat for his younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) so that Georgie can float the boat down a rain filled street gutter. The boat gets sucked down the storm drain and this is when the audience gets introduced to ‘It’ aka: 'Pennywise' (Bill Skarsgard). Luring the boy to reach down and get his boat, the boy disappears down the drain.
At school Bill is consoled by his nerd friends Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff). They soon join forces with other nerds and outcasts Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) as they band together after having separate experiences with what scares each of them.
What ‘It’ does is that it finds out what scares each kid and presents it to them to lure them into the lair below the city streets in the sewers and old water system of Derry.
As expected, the kids band together and solve the issue of the missing children.
The wonderful interaction within the nerdy group of kids was excellent. They had their differences with each other but their deep friendship prevailed over everything.
The interaction between Henry and his father were appropriately intense and gave a solid base for Henry's bullying. Then there was Beverly’s relationship with her father, which was creepily perfect.
The bikes, the drugstore, library and town’s main street were well sourced and perfect for the era. The darkness of the haunted house and sewer system were good in their representation, however, I never felt any fear feeling during the film. I didn’t get afraid for the kids, nor did I sense enough suspense to make it a horror film.
Lieberher was excellent as the stuttering young boy who loved his brother and fell with great affection for Beverly. Hamilton was excellent as the bully who wanted to show his father that he was unafraid and tough. Scott was very good as the young boy who fell under It's spell. Skarsgard was good as Pennywise ‘It’. Taylor was fantastic as the overweight nerd who was enchanted by Beverly. Lillis was sublime as the only girl in the group. Her fearlessness was perfect. Wolfhard, Jacobs, Grazer and Oleff were very good. Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga wrote a mediocre screenplay in that the story lacked real engagement and was too long. Andy Muschietti was the director. Although the children’s performances were excellent, he didn’t create any real suspense and horror based fear. The film dragged on way too long.
Overall: This was a disappointment because the characters were good but the story and interaction between the vehicle of fear and the kids was done mediocrely.