‘It’ clowns around too much

Written By Michael Richter, A&E Editor

Fear is the central theme of “It,” but the movie’s demonic clown Pennywise does little to strike fear in the audience.

The latest film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “It” is akin to what would happen if Freddy Kruger clashed with the Goonies — which looks good on paper, but it’s poorly executed. This is a movie that is unable to properly tonally shift between funny and scary. And when it is trying to frighten, it usually just amuses. In fact, despite a few jump scares, “It” fails to be horrifying whatsoever.

Even in his first on-screen appearance, Pennywise fails to scare. The classic scene in which Pennywise interacts with Georgie from the sewer is supposed to be the terrifying introduction to an iconic character. However, it is burdened by cliché music and a bland performance from Bill Skarsgård. The voice Skarsgård uses for Pennywise is uninspired and grating. Although Skarsgård’s timid performance could have probably been excused if it weren’t for the immense amount of computer graphics (CG) used for Pennywise scares. When the killer clown charges after his prey, he does so in a rapid manner that is poorly portrayed through CG.

As the film progresses and Pennywise appears on screen more often, he becomes less scary and the overall intensity of the film dwindles. By the midway point of the movie, it is painfully clear Pennywise possesses few tricks up his sleeve that have not been seen before.

In addition, the film’s protagonists, the Losers Club, are made up of generic and vapid characters. There’s a fat kid, a boy who stutters, a foul-mouthed cocky one and there is a black kid who receives very few lines of dialogue past the middle of the movie. The one female character is actually the one who is properly fleshed out. Although she is still mainly defined by her own personal issues.

Despite having little to work with, the children actors’ respective performances stand out as the one bright spot of “It.” And when the movie intends to be funny, it succeeds because of the performances of the charismatic kids that comprise the cast. In particular, Finn Wolfhard, who stars in “Stranger Things,” displays his comedic ability in this film. He has various hilarious one-liners that he delivers with great poise.

But the laughs can’t save “It.” The film struggles to find its identity. It can’t decide if it wants to be a fun-filled horror movie like “Evil Dead” or a serious film about fear.

Rating: 3/10