COULROPHOBICS BE­WARE

IT

Sound & Vision - - ENTERTAINMENT - David Vaughn

In the late 1980s in the town of Derry, Maine, a young boy goes out to test a pa­per boat dur­ing a torrential rain­storm. Brav­ing the el­e­ments, he places the boat in the gut­ter and runs along­side to watch its progress. Un­for­tu­nately, he’s too slow and watches it de­scend into the storm drain. He bends down to see if it’s lost for­ever and is sur­prised to see a clown star­ing back at him. Star­tled, he quickly jumps back. The clown in­tro­duces him­self as Pen­ny­wise and of­fers to be the kid’s new­est friend—in­stead, the boy be­comes the clown’s lat­est vic­tim. As more kids start to dis­ap­pear, a group of young teenagers, led by the boy’s older brother, band to­gether to get to the bot­tom of the story be­fore more peo­ple go miss­ing.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, this film lands in the up­per ech­e­lon of adap­ta­tions of the famed writer's work. I’m gen­er­ally not a fan of hor­ror films—es­pe­cially gory ones—but the pop­u­lar­ity of this one en­ticed me to give it a go. Direc­tor Andy Muschi­etti breaks the dense novel into two chap­ters, the child­hood story be­ing told in this film, and the story jump­ing ahead 27 years in the next in­stall­ment com­ing in 2019. In this chap­ter, he pro­vides just enough back­ground in­for­ma­tion on the his­tory of the cursed town to keep the au­di­ence on the edge of their seats and leaves you an­tic­i­pat­ing the se­quel. As ex­pected, there are a lot of scary scenes, plenty of bul­ly­ing—a re­cur­ring theme in a lot of King sto­ries—and the oc­ca­sional gore, but the cen­tral fo­cus is al­ways the story, which is why this works so well.

Shot dig­i­tally and fin­ished in a 2K master for its the­atri­cal run, the 4K up­con­ver­sion is mostly pleas­ing. Di­rect com­par­isons to the fab­u­lous-look­ing Blu-ray show min­i­mal im­prove­ment over­all other than the dark scenes—and there are many—which pro­vide more depth and shadow de­tail due to the HDR grad­ing ver­sus the 1080p re­lease. Col­ors look about the same with the ex­cep­tion of red, which is def­i­nitely more vi­brant in UHD.

The Dolby Atmos track is quite good at pro­vid­ing the suit­able am­biance to scare and shock the au­di­ence. The en­velop­ing sound­track is on full dis­play as water rushes through the room, houses creak, and gen­eral may­hem oc­curs. There’s also good use of the LFE chan­nel, es­pe­cially in the open­ing scene.

Housed on the Blu-ray, the sup­ple­ment pack­age con­tains three fea­turettes, deleted scenes, trail­ers, and a UV Dig­i­tal Copy.

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