What You Need To Know - January 15, 2018

It: What You Need To Know
by James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

It: What You Need To Know

Many who grew up in the 1980s or 90s will probably remember being terrified by Pennywise the Clown, the demonic antagonist in Tommy Lee Wallace's screen adaptation of Stephen King's It. Thanks to a memorably unhinged performance from Tim Curry, Pennywise helped instil a fear of clowns in the minds of a generation and was even cited as the inspiration behind the bizarre 'killer clown' craze that swept the nation in 2016 and saw pranksters dressing up as the character and scaring the wits out of unsuspecting members of the public.

Wallace's adaptation has become something of a cult hit over the years since it first aired in 1990 and last year saw Pennywise resurrected in cinemas with new, big-screen adaptation of King's disturbing tale. After arriving in cinemas in 2017 and becoming a hit with critics and horror fans alike, this week the film arrives in stores on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K. Here's everything you need to know...

Who's in it?

Bill Skarsgård takes on the daunting task of stepping into Pennywise's oversized shoes, while the film's talented cast of youngsters is led by Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard, St. Vincent's Jaeden Lieberher, Hawaii Five-O's Chosen Jacobs and The Dark Tower's Nicholas Hamilton.

And who's directing?

Mama director Andy Muschetti is the man calling the shots after taking over from Cary Fukunaga, who helped provide the screenplay fro the film along with Chase Palmer and Gary Dauberman.

What's the plot?

Like many of Stephen King's stories, the film is set in the fictional American town of Derry, Maine, where the locals have been plagued by a series of mysterious disappearances, particularly young children. One such recent disappearance involves Georgie, the seven-year-old brother of socially awkward teenager Bill Denbrough, who is abducted by Pennywise when a boat Bill made for him floats into a storm drain.

Georgie is one of several children who have gone missing in a town that has for centuries witnessed many unexplained disappearances and tragedies, and when Bill discovers that Georgie's body might have washed up in a sewage-filled marshland known as The Barrens, Bill and his friends – a group of social outcasts known as The Losers' Club – decide to investigate.

All of Bill's friends have had their own strange experiences in the town, witnessing a series of odd phenomena including a fountain of blood, a painting that appears to come to life, and various sightings of a creepy-looking clown. They soon realise they are all connected, and upon investigating the Barrens they discover that the incidents all occur in close proximity to the sewer network, whose underground tunnels all converge in a well underneath an abandoned house at 29 Neilbolt Street. They also discover that the strange events in the town seem to recur every 27 years, and realise that sightings of the clown also occur each time.

After another attack, which they now understand to be the work of Pennywise, the group decide to head to the house on Neibolt street to confront him, with the aim of ending his reign of terror once and for all.

Does it deliver?

Bill Skarsgård had a tough act to follow with Tim Curry's portrayal of Pennywise having become so iconic, but instead of trying to imitate Curry's approach, the filmmakers have wisely allowed Skarsgård to do his own thing and the result is something very different, but just as disturbing and terrifying. His is just one of a number of great performances from the film's talented cast, but what really makes the 2017 incarnation of It work so well is that, just like in the 1990 version, it doesn't just rely on jump scares to be frightening; a lot of the scariest moments come from the anticipation of Pennywise as much as his actual arrival on the screen.

There has been a wave of brilliant and highly original horror films arriving on the big screen in recent years and this is up there with the best of them – not only that, but there's already a sequel in the pipeline too.


It Andrés Muschietti

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