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.