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They've finally stopped clowning around with a Stephen King adaptation. Instead of building tension and suspense, "It" just jumps from scene to scares with no connection or coherence to thread them together other than the mere fact that they've been placed on top of one-another, like toys mixed up from different sets.

Horror Treated RightDirector Andy Muschietti (Mama) does Stephen King's book justice. But It goes by another name...a name that has become iconic in the annals of horror: Pennywise the Dancing Clown. As a novel It is a story about adults who had bad things happen to them as children, and how growing up largely involves forgetting about those bad things. Rarely a horror movie that fleshes out the characters as people with personality and their own struggles rather than putting them there so the monster or ghost has someone to haunt or prey or fight. Derry seems like the flawless small town before Pennywise the Clown gets his polka dot mitts on it, but something even more insidious lives there.

With three credited screenwriters (Chase Palmer, Gary Dauberman and Cary Fukunaga, who was originally set to direct) the story is an unforgivable mess.

'I don't know about you guys, but I'm ever so thankful they decided not to adapt our scenes from the book TOO faithfully'.

The movie involves a gang of young children who face their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, who carries his trademark red balloon.

Because Muschietti and the screenwriters understand that King's work is most successful due to the empathy he creates for his characters - a point that so many adaptations fail to grasp - It is as much a coming-of-age movie as it is a horror story, and it's filled with heart nearly to overflowing. The movie demonstrates main protagonist Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is more resourceful than his parents while investigating his little brother's disappearance, Richie (Finn Wolfhard) has a gift for perfectly timed wisecracks, Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) is quick to respond with a classic "your mom" joke wherever applicable, Beverly (Sophia Lillis) knows how to evade bullies and her horribly abusive father, and new kid on the block Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is an avid reader, while late addition Mike (Chosen Jacobs) is smart enough to bring a captive bolt pistol to a clown fight at the end.

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But while Pennywise is legitimately terrifying, overall, It is more intense than it is scary. Here, Muschietti makes the smart choice of discarding the book's now kitsch terrors - there's not much a mummy or werewolf can do to really chill the soul now they're making out with Tom Cruise and becoming teen basketball stars - but what's far more impressive is what he conjures up in their stead. Evident a year ago after several "creepy clown" sightings across the country left many terrified.

What made you decide to take on Pennywise?

This being the case, Muschietti's cinematic version of the story has always been expected to take the form of a movie and a sequel.

It does suffer from a few drawbacks. It is one of King's specialties to ferret out the common bonds of humanity in even his most twisted scenarios and use those to draw readers into his fright-filled narratives - all the better to startle the starch out of you, kiddies.

IT spends a significant amount of its lengthy running time on each of The Losers' Club's personal experiences with Pennywise in sequences that are perfectly horrifying, if slightly repetitive. I knew I was in good hands so I could really go for it, and he responded to what I was doing.

Some 30 years ago, Stephen King's masterful and massive horror work "IT" was released to widespread acclaim and huge sales, becoming the bestselling book of 1986 in the United States. Tennis fans should also look out for Battle of the Sexes, about the 1973 match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, which will be screened at the London Film Festival next month.


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