IT [2017] ★★★

Movies based on Stephen King’s novels tend to range from terrific (“The Shawshank Redemption”) to just plain awful (“Cell”), but being one of his scariest and most popular stories, I approached “It” with high expectations. Filmmaker Tommy Lee Wallace had already adapted the story into a mini-series back in 1990, but the new film never feels recycled or second-hand. This is a first-rate horror film that stays true to its original source material by delivering non-stop chills and an intriguing plot. Set in the small Town of Derry in the late 1980’s, “It” takes us back to a time when kids embarked on a summer adventure, but this isn’t your typical adventure; there’s an evil clown terrorizing the town and local kids are disappearing one by one. So it’s up to Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and his school friends to investigate. Being set in the 80’s, “It” feels old-school, and despite its main plot, it’s also a love letter to many other films from that era (off the top of my head: “The Goonies”, “Stand By Me”), and that’s what makes it so satisfying in my opinion. Then there’s Pennywise the clown himself (a terrific Bill Skarsgård): a terrifying monster that has the ability to haunt your dreams. In other words, if you hate clowns, you’ll hate them even more after watching “It”. Director Andy Muschietti stages some pulse-pounding horror sequences, but nothing would have worked without a human connection, and that’s where the movie scores points. By giving us a reason to care, Muschietti and his talented cast have managed to deliver one of the best horror movies of the year.

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