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Bill builds a paper boat for his younger brother who goes out in the rain to see if it floats. He loses it down the sewer, and this is where we are first introduced to Pennywise (as we all know from the trailer). Bill hangs out with a bunch of boys who are part of the “loser” crowd. One of the new kids who joins the group, Ben, has been studying the history of their town and notices a pattern to the kids who have gone missing. The movie is creepy throughout; there are a lot of twists and turns to the story to keep you on the edge of your seat. There are a lot of old school scare tactics that made me jump a couple of times and made many in the audience jump more often. The film has an interesting soundtrack – a traditionally eerie score mixed with late-80’s hits. There are nods to other films, such as Carrie and Breakfast Club, from that generation. What sold the film for me was the underlying story of a group of young outcasts on the edge of puberty who think they are wiser than they are and who bond together to stand up to adversities much greater than the bullies they face on a regular basis. While I especially liked the performance by Haeden Lieberher (Bill) who also starred in the wonderful film Midnight Special, the collective acting by this group of kids completely makes the movie; they zing out one-liners that most of us will recall from when we were that age, which also keeps gives the movie a fun sense of humor. Big thumbs up for a film that doesn’t have quite the same psychological impact as the original Nightmare on Elm Street but skillfully combines scariness with a wonderful coming of age story; it’s a horror version of Stand By Me. My hat is off to the director who seems to have successfully brought the horror and coming of age stories together and, in the process, laid open the contents of childhood anxiety and fear. If you like horror movies, don’t miss this one; its great!

About Gary Burkholder

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