Hollywood@Home: IT

Pennywise is coming for your kids in “It,” now available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD.

In my younger days, I read every Stephen King novel and looked forward to the film adaptations. There’s one major exception and that was “It.” I’ve always had a thing about clowns. Clowns are evil. Period.

I never read King’s book and I refused to watch the TV movie adaptation. I was simply horrified and disgusted by the combination of kids, clowns and death. Finally, I gave in to my fears for the purpose of this review.

“It,” the 2017 film now on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra, is every bit as shocking as I thought it might be. I have a hard time with films that depict violence to children. Maybe that’s the very definition of horror in my mind. “It” lived up to my expectations.

First, I can’t get the film’s opening sequence out of my head. Seven-year-old Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) is murdered by a demonic clown who calls to him from a storm sewer. This jaw-dropping scene sets the tone for the rest of the film. The threat of death hangs over a group of youngsters in Derry, Maine.

Second, much has been said about Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the TV movie. I won’t go there, but I can tell you that the take by actor Bill Skarsgård is monstrously chilling. He gives Pennywise a childlike quality that I found deeply disturbing. He talks to kids in deceptively innocent tones. He would prefer to dupe the child into surrendering innocence, before employing even tougher measures. “It” is very much a movie about yielding to evil.

But, Skarsgård is not the only reason to watch. The filmmakers, led by director Andy Muschietti, set up a first-rate ensemble of child actors to play the seven kids who do battle with Pennywise. The standouts include Jaeden Lieberher, who plays Georgie’s older brother and Sophia Lillis as Bev Marsh, the only girl in the so-called Losers’ Club. Each member is fighting at least one personal demon and all are subjected to a gang of older bullies from the local high school. These young actors are most convincing, giving the film an enormous emotional impact.

The scariest moments are always the face-to-face encounters between Pennywise and the kids. The computer-generated effects were overbearing at times. It’s the actors that bring the story home.

So, yes, I’m recommending “It” to my home entertainment readers. It’s tense, chilling and full of horrific scenes. But, it’s also a story about how we are better served by standing together against evil, supernatural or otherwise. That’s a real-life lesson you can take away from this very scary movie. Grade: B

Never talk to clowns in storm sewers. Just don’t do “IT.”