Movie Review: IT
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Sophie Lillis, Jaeden Lieberher, Chosen Jacobs, and Jeremy Ray Taylor .
Release Date: 18th August 2017A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.– courtesy of IMDB
Check out that clown’s sick dance skillz
After the critical and financial flop of another Stephen King adaptation only a couple of months ago, The Dark Tower left a sour taste in many a fan’s mouth. Expectations have been building up for years surrounding the idea of an IT remake and the first trailer blew up everywhere on the internet. Hype was high, but expectations were dampened by The Dark Tower’s less than faithful adaptation. Would IT suffer the same fate?
Well, no. As it turns out, IT is an ambitious, highly entertaining film for fans of the original source material and newcomers, such as myself. Now being the highest grossing horror movie of all time, IT has certainly struck accord with the vast majority of people who have experienced this newest rendition of the story. But what sets IT apart from other similar movies in the same genre?
IT cares about its story. This is a good start. Far too often in the horror genre we see that the scares are set far above any resemblance of a cohesive, thought-out narrative. This is understandable - studio executives want to promise scares and thrills in order to fill seats; that’s business. IT, whilst being filled with frightening imagery, is more concerned about the characters and setting at the core of the film. They understand that in order to make a story compelling, you’ve got to ground that story in a believable setting and by making us as an audience care too.
The filmmakers have created a tremendous sense of place. This movie, first and foremost, truly feels like an eighties adventure throwback in the style of The Goonies or Adventures in babysitting. . The writers need as much credit as they can get. The highly likeable central kid characters, from the arrogant-smooth talker, to the germophobe, to the stutterer struggling to find his voice in a summer of fear; all of them come together with surprisingly charming results. A great group dynamic has been created here that has a real sense of heart. I’m sure it’s one audiences will remember in years to come.
Although the kid characters are the driving force of the film, IT pulls very little punches when it comes to high-stakes and violence. Right from the shocking opening moments of the movie, the writers have created an environment where anything is possible. Just because the characters are kids does not mean they are safe from harm. Whether it be abusive parents, psychotic knife wielding bullies, or the demonic creature stalking their every movement – the kids are put through a rough ride. It’s unexpected, wicked, and leaves you on the edge of your seat in the films tensest moments. Any film that has its protagonists feel like they are in tangible danger is doing something right.
"Even if IT isn’t totally original in its scares, its presentation more than makes up for it."
And here’s the thing, IT may have its unsettling moments, in fact it has them in an almost unrelenting abundance; I wouldn’t necessarily say this film is scary through and through. I saw it as more of an adventure/thriller that highly entertained me rather than shaking me to my absolute core. But I don’t consider this a failure. A structurally sound, well-told story can be the decider for the vast majority of movies. Even if IT isn’t totally original in its scares, its presentation more than makes up for it.
Not much to say about the cast of child actors, apart from that they’re a fantastic ensemble. It’s rare that Hollywood is able to cast one genuinely talented child actor for a film, let alone a whole cast. They all play there parts and they embody that certain nostalgic charming sense of child-like inquisition and flare for adventure (even in the face of possible death). And Bill Skarsgard does a great job of portraying Pennywise the all-knowing dancing demonic clown. With just the right balance between playfulness and threat, Skarsgard has sculpted an unpredictable character that is deliciously creepy. You eagerly await his next scene on screen and then immediately regret wishing he reappeared – the markings of a villain you love to hate.
Other than the odd moment of CGI looking flimsy, with a mixture of a few instances of strange camerawork and editing, IT shapes up to be not only the best horror movie of the year (duh) but one of the most exciting cinema experiences too. From the great acting, to the great writing, and strong moments of pure tension and terror, IT is a remarkable hit and marks a high hurdle for the second half of Steven King’s story to leap over in the future.
+ Great sense of place and characters
+ Entertaining horror
+ Never feels like the film drags
- Slight CGI/Technical filmmaking issues