Stephen King's IT Creeps Onto Blu-ray

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It on Blu-ray

In the town of Derry, Maine, children disappear. And nobody cares. Well, except for the kids, of course. And only some of them.

From the looks of things, Derry is a small town. Small enough to get just about everywhere in it via bicycle. Plus, we get to see a map of it later in the film, confirming its size. So one would think that if a couple of kids disappeared there, it would be a thing. But the only ones who pay all that much attention to it are a small band of misfit kids who are on persistent defense against a truly sociopathic bully who doesn't just give them wedgies and take their lunch money, but also carves his initials into them with a knife -- and receives no legal punishment for it.

What could possibly make life more horrific for these kids? A recurring demonic threat from the sewer system that goes back over a century, taking kids lives every 27 years. While we never truly get a story telling why this happens, how it began, or why "It" appears as Pennywise the Dancing Clown to everyone when only one of the kids had a fear of clowns ("It" looks like whatever you fear the most), we do get one thing: a gut-sickening, anxiety-inducing tour of terror that relies on visuals, mood, and a pervasive sense of helplessness that escapes the screen and invades your soul.

And you thought I was picking IT apart, didn't you?

Bill Skarsgård is effectively creepy as Pennywise, and the film doesn't waste time before you get your first look at him in action, taking his first young victim down a storm sewer drain and setting off the chain of events that brings "The Losers Club" into the drama. From there, each kid -- who lives a miserable life under the rule of a parent (we only ever see one for each kid) who is either disconnected or overbearing or implements "Munchausen by Proxy" or is a straight-up molester -- has their individual encounter with bloody weirdness. Perhaps because of their horrific homelife, they are able to take the supernatural encounters in stride, and ultimately find the inner strength to stand up to "It" once they learn the secret of how to defeat the threat.

Stephen King's IT is a coming of age story wrapped inside a tension-filled monster flick. It finds the limits of creepiness and then pushes past them. When I was finished watching, I had this uneasy feeling that something very bad was coming, and it took a bit of thinking before I realized it was induced by the movie, not my forgetting to send in the mortgage payment.

IT adapts the first portion of King's hefty tome, leaving off with the kids swearing to return in 27 years in case "It" tries to make another go at it. Not to worry, the sequel is already in the works. Let's hope they grow into better adults than their parents were.

Extras on this Blu-ray release include making-of videos that take you inside Skarsgård's transformation into Pennywise and the actors who make up the Losers' Club, as well as an interview with Stephen King and a collection of deleted scenes.

4.0 / 5.0