FILM UNFILTERED - Young cast shines in Stephen King’s ‘It’

FILM UNFILTERED - Young cast shines in Stephen King’s ‘It’


Earlier this summer, I talked about how there have been many unsuccessful adaptations of Stephen King novels.

“The Dark Tower” came out a few weeks ago and was both a critical and financial let down. One of the greatest failures of that film was that it tried too hard to condense too much content into one movie that was far too short.

New in theaters this week is the second adaptation of “It” and its creepy clown Pennywise. Unlike “The Dark Tower,” it takes the time to let the material and the characters grow and flourish in a naturally long movie that is befitting of this tale of terror. Like most King novels, the story takes place in Maine, Derry to be precise, and it turns out the town has a very creepy history. Every 27 years there always seems to be some sort of mass homicide or horrible occurrence that ends up taking the lives of the residents.

Set in 1989, the creature known as ‘It’ returns and begins feasting on the children of the town. Georgie, the younger brother of main character, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), becomes a victim. Bill realizes that there is something else going on and soon enlists the aid of his friends to help him figure it out. What occurs over the next two hours is a wonderfully crafted, richly enveloping horror film.

The young actors that populate the film are all outstanding in every capacity from beginning to end, and like another King adaptation “Stand by Me,” you become part of the group and enjoy being a part of their quest. There is something about this film, perhaps it has something to do with it being set in the late 80s in an age before kids with cell phones and tablets. It reminded me of “The Goonies;” the adventurism, daringness and inquisitiveness of teenagers together.

I should warn everyone this is a pretty hard R-rated movie. There is a lot of gruesomeness, dismembering and some very filthy language, but if you’ve ever read a Stephen King novel you know he can be rather salty. This movie is a nice kick-off for the fall because this summer’s movie season went out with a whimper.

The greatest strength of this film is its young ensemble cast lead by Lieberher. Sophia Lillis plays Beverly, who is dealing with her own form of terror at home. Jack Dylan Grazer plays Eddie and is terrified of germs. Finn Wolfhard is Richard “Richie” Tozier, the bespectacled best friend of Bill. Jeremy Ray Taylor is the teased Ben. Wyatt Oleff is Stanley, who would just rather stick to the rules and steer clear of trouble, and Chosen Jacobs is Mike Hanlon, a self-taught historian.

You’ll eventually come to realize there’s not that many adults in this film and it’s for the better, since these young kids are what make it so good. But I should also note, you will have images of Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) embedded in your head for days to follow.

The cast of “It” includes, from left, Chosen Jacobs, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff and Jeremy Ray Taylor.