He's Back: Evil Clown of It Will Give You Shivers

Pennywise is scarier than ever. Worse, he's kind of smart
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2017 11:17 AM CDT

If the 1990 miniseries based on Stephen King's It didn't convince you to stay well away from storm drains and red balloons, Andy Muschietti's latest telling of the tale just might. It—part one of two, to be released at a later date—follows a group of kids in Derry, Maine, who encounter an entity that transforms into their worst fears. One such incarnation: a terrifying clown. The movie currently has a strong 90% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Here's what critics are saying:

  • Menace clown Pennywise is "definitely scarier" than Freddy Krueger, but his "terrors can feel cartoony," Ryan Porter writes at the Toronto Star. No matter, the film's young actors, including Finn Wolfhard of Netflix's Stranger Things, "pull off the unlikely feat of stealing It from It." They deliver "a lot of heart" so that the film "strikes a nice balance between sleepover-ready gross-outs … and tender coming-of-age storytelling," Porter writes.
  • While the film "is no modern classic," it "works enough of the time to deliver on the promise of bad dreams," writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. You can thank Bill Skarsgard's "spectacularly scary" turn as Pennywise for that. Referring to one violent scene involving the clown, Travers adds, "You'll scream bloody murder." And isn't that the point?

  • Yes, "Pennywise is as creepy as ever," but that does not a good film make. That's the take of Lindsey Bahr at the AP, who was disappointed overall. The film has good acting and "a few guaranteed jump-out-of-your-seat moments," but "the story is an unforgivable mess," and the parents and bullies are almost as cruel as the clown, which "makes it especially hard to connect or engage with the tormented kids."
  • Karen D'Souza, however, is more of a fan. "The remake may not be quite as memorable as the original" but it will send "shivers up your spine," she writes at the San Jose Mercury News. The young actors provide "a sense of humanity that elevates the horror," she adds. Speaking of horror, Skarsgard gives Pennywise "a sense of intellectual depth that's disturbing. He's not just a monster, he's also smart and that's infinitely more ominous."
(More movie review stories.)

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