Movie Review: IT
IT Movie Review
I’m starting this review by saying that I mostly slept well after watching this film, which I did not expect to occur. As someone with an overactive imagination and a level of constant anxiety, the horror genre is not one I usually give a huge amount of attention. I can appreciate it and its dedicated film base, but I do so mostly from a distance. So why would someone like me, who already doesn't find clowns particularly appealing, decide to go see Director Andres Muschietti's IT?
The trailers told a story and sucked me in, and drawing from my own childhood experience, I'm a sucker for the underdog. That's why. I was drawn by the story of “losers” facing their fears together despite the grim possibilities of Pennywise. That's what the trailers advertised, and boy did it deliver…no pun intended.
Let's get one thing out of the way: this is not a remake. The first small screen portrayal of the classic Stephen King book arrived in 1990 in the form of a television miniseries. Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise has earned its way into the pantheon of classic, creepy performances. However, this version is very different in many ways.
There are nods and teases to both the miniseries and the greater groundwork of the book in the film. As expected with any adaptation, there are some changes to the book, but most of the changes are minimal and serve the greater story overall. In fact, a few are an improvement on the book in my opinion.
There will be a lot of comparisons to The Goonies, and other classic 80’s kids movies, but this is a film that shines on its own because of its script, set design, and a world class performance from its young cast and the immensely creepy performance from Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise/IT.
You really care about these characters, and that’s ultimately the biggest takeaway; these are kids you root for to win. I can usually mention a standout member of the main cast, but honestly, the whole “losers club” did a phenomenal job. The main cast includes Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom, Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, Wyatt Oleff as Stan Uris, Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak.
They are planning to split the book into two films, so this one focuses on just the kids. I’m quite curious to see how they structure the sequel, and my hope is that they are able to cast some adults with the same great chemistry. Their fear is essentially the mainline scare factor of the film. The film earns its R rating with some pretty brutal violence, language, and a few breathtaking moments that even took me by surprise. All of these events serve the story, though, which was paramount.
From a horror perspective, I’d consider this a pretty chilling film, and not all of it is purely the Pennywise scenes. IT is only in the movie somewhat sparingly, and because of that, his presence makes more of an impact throughout the film. There are a few scenes in the first and third acts that are made to wreck you, and it does that without a problem. The film’s 135 minute runtime is really never felt. It is very evenly paced with necessary slowdowns and character moments and enough jumps to keep you on your toes through the film.
I could maybe figure out some small nitpicky items to complain about, but honestly, in my opinion, this is filmmaking at its best. Overall, I really enjoyed the film. IT’s performances, score, and cast create quite a compelling story to watch. I would highly recommend it to those that can handle the scares and thrills. I, for one, will never view red balloons the same way again.
Jonathan is a film buff, tech nerd and a certified member of the Star Wars fandom. He is the Co-founder of The Digital Shore and Above The Line. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @beachjd.