MOVIE BUFF-ET: “It” does big-screen justice to King’s best-selling novel

Warner Bros.

There are a few horror films that transcend the genre, that become more than just a chance to comfort your significant other for a couple of hours in the theater or on your couch on a cool autumn night.

A few horror films really sink their claws into you and never truly let you go. I’m thinking of movies like “Psycho,” “The Exorcist,” “Jaws,” “Halloween,” and “Silence of the Lambs.”

Your list of titles might be different from mine, but you know what I’m talking about. It’s those movies that you don’t forget and that can still make your heart beat a bit faster or tickle the hairs on the back of your neck when you think about them.

New In Local Theaters

  • 9/11 (R) 1 hr. 30 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
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  • Home Again (PG-13) 1 hr. 37 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale Cinema Grill, Malco Rogers Towne)
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  • It (PG-13) (R) 2 hr. 15 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale Cinema Grill, Malco Rogers Towne)
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  • Tulip Fever (R) 1 hr. 47 min.
    (Malco Rogers Towne)
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I’m not sure director Andy Muschietti’s “It” clears that bar, but his adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel is a well-crafted, character-driven film that does justice to the source material and is at times brutally scary.

Those familiar with King’s novel know that the story revolves around a group of nerdy kids who draw together and bond over their various plights with bullies at home and at school.

The group nicknamed “The Losers’ Club” also discover their town of Derry, Main, is under the thrall of an evil force that manifests itself to its victims as their greatest fear, but most often takes on the form of the maniacal clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) lost his younger brother, Georgie, to Pennywise, and he rallies the other members of the Losers’ Club to confront the monster.

The strength of the film is the camaraderie of the kids in the Losers’ Club. Bill, Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Bev (Sophia Lillis) and Richie (Finn Wolfhard of “Stranger Things”) are the central characters, but each of the Losers get a strong moment in the movie.

Because we care about the kids, their harrowing encounters with Pennywise and other tormentors are all the more affecting. While the film has heart, it is gritty, brutal, and unrelenting. Tim Curry’s Pennywise was the best part of the 1990 TV adaption of the novel, but Skarsgard’s performance surpasses Curry’s performance with a creep factor that is so icky it’s hard to shake.

Muschietti’s camera is set at the height of his middle-school protagonist, so we experience the movie at their eye level and filtered through their lens. All of the adult characters are portrayed as a bit off. None are quite right from the vantage point of the Loser’s Club. It seems the super-natural evil of Pennywise has soaked into every nook and cranny of Derry. The Losers are on their own in attempting to end a string of murders perpetrated by the evil entity. In confronting Pennywise, the kids hauntingly earn the name of their club. They might not all lose their lives, but they certainly lose their innocence.

(R) 2 hr. 15 min.
Grade: B+

The Classic Corner

The Three Faces of Eve

M. Knight Shyamalan’s latest film “Split” dealt with dissociative personal disorder (multiple personality disorder) in a sensational and horrific way last winter. James McAvoy’s amazing performance as a man plagued by 23 distinct personalities propelled the film as a strong comeback effort for the director.

However, directors and screenwriters have had a love affair multiple personalities almost as long as Hollywood’s been around. Perhaps the first attempt at making a serious film about the controversial mental condition was producer/director/writer Nunnally Johnson’s “Three Faces of Eve,” and adaption of a 1957 book that told the true story of a woman’s possible struggle with multiple personalities.

The film itself comes off a bit cheesy today, but there’s nothing stringy or gooey about Joanne Woodward’s triple-faceted, Academy Award Winning performance.

We meet her as the timid Eve White, a housewife with low self-esteem, who suffers from terrible migraine headaches and blackouts. While being examined by psychiatrist Dr. Curtis Luthor (Lee J. Cobb), Eve’s second personality, named by Eve Black, manifests. Ms. Black is a proverbial wild child, a good-time girl whose demeanor would curl most men’s mustaches. Dr. Luther continues to delve into Eve psychosis in an attempt to reunite the two Eve’s and a third personality that manifests into one identity.

Though the movie treads what is familiar ground today, the film was groundbreaking when released in 1957. Woodward’s performance as three distinct personalities set a high-water mark that actors with similar roles have been attempting to reach ever since.