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Columbus Theaters a Real Clown Show this Week

Hope Madden Hope Madden Columbus Theaters a Real Clown Show this WeekPhoto via IMDb.
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It’s here! After a shockingly weak summer – August was especially dismal, wasn’t it? – there may finally be a reason to venture to the multiplex this weekend. It’s Stephen King’s exploration of coulrophobia, the irrational fear of clowns.

Like that’s irrational!

It

Clowns are fun, aren’t they?

It’s been 27 years since the TV miniseries starring the letter-perfect Tim Curry, and as the story itself dictates, the time has come for It to return.

The Derry, Maine “losers club” finds itself in 1988 in this adaptation, an era that not only brings the possibility of Part 2 much closer to present day, but it gives the pre-teen adventures a nostalgic and familiar quality.

Bill Skarsgård has the unenviable task of following Curry in the role of Pennywise, the child-hungry clown. Those are some big clown shoes to fill, but Skarsgård is up to the challenge. His Pennywise is more theatrical, more of an exploitation of all that’s inherently macabre and grotesque about clowns.

Is he better than the original? Let’s not get nutty here, but he is great.

He and the kids really make this work. The young cast is led by the always solid Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special), and he’s surrounded by very strong support. Sophia Lillis charms as the shiniest gem in the losers’ club, and Finn Wolfhard (that is a name!) is a scream as the foul mouthed class clown Richie.

Director Andy Muschietti shows great instinct for taking advantage of foreground, background and sound. Yes, It relies heavily on jump scares, but Muschietti’s approach to plumbing your fear has more depth than that, and he manages your rising terror expertly.

Grade: B

 

The Oath

A fight for alpha ensues with a rugged Icelandic backdrop in director Baltasar Kormákur’s latest, The Oath.

Kormákur, a filmmaker known for action-heavy thrillers, also stars as Finnur, a surgeon with some family troubles.

Daughter Anna (Hera Hilmar) is spiraling out of control. An entitled party girl, her drug flirtation blossoms into a full-blown habit, much thanks to her love interest and dealer, Óttar (Gísli Örn Garðarsson).

Finnur’s increasingly reckless behavior, all aimed at removing Óttar from Anna’s life, points as much to a need for control as it does misdirected protectiveness.

Though both male leads impress, it’s really Hilmar who leaves a mark. Vulnerable, naïve and headstrong, her Anna’s a perfectly frustrating culmination of post-adolescent volatility.

The Oath lacks the slick production values and audience-friendly narrative found primarily in Kormákur’s English-language product (2 Guns, Everest, Contraband), favoring grittier fare and more subdued energy. These are choices that benefit the story, although Kormákur struggles to maintain a tone that suits the tale.

Grade: B-

Also opening in Columbus:
9/11 (R)
Columbus (NR)
Crown Heights (R)
The Girl Without Hands (NR)
Home Again (PG-13)
True to the Game (R)

Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF, and listen to her podcasts FRIGHT CLUB and THE SCREENING ROOM.

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