Movie Review: “IT” – A Hit

Written by Matt Butler September 23, 2017

IT

IT might just be the first straight-up horror film I’ve seen in the theatre. In part because of fear, though mostly just general indifference to the genre (I’m already working to remedy this). So it should come as no surprise that seeing IT – with a packed opening weekend crowd no less – stands as one of the most thrilling movie experiences in my recent memory.

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*

So yeah, I loved IT. It was every bit as exciting as I hoped it would be. Although I don’t think I’d call IT scary. It’s intense, a rollercoaster experience for sure, but unless you have Coulrophobia, I don’t think IT is likely to keep you up at night. Nonetheless, IT has the tonal versatility to stir emotion in ways you may not have thought possible, at least not in ways conventional of a horror film.

“Welcome to the Loser’s Club, asshole!”

But IT has always been an unconventional story. Remember the inter-dimensional spider? Or that heavenly space turtle? Or the underage gangbang? (Okay, maybe there’s a reason people don’t remember those things). But what people do remember IT for is the killer clown and the young ragtag band of nobodies who set out to kill it. Think Stand By Me meets Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s the focus on these elements that makes the heart and soul of Andy Muscietti’s take on the King novel.

IT

It kind of bugs me that everyone’s calling this movie a remake, even though the 1990 version was TV miniseries and this is a theatrical movie. This essential difference of format makes Stephen King’s It (1990) and IT (2017) completely different beasts.

“You’ll float too.”

Just compare the iconic scene of George Denbrough’s encounter with Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and how Pennywise devours the young and unfortunate Georgie in each version. In the Tim Curry take, Pennywise tugs at Georgie’s arm, Georgie screams, and Pennywise reveals his monstrous toothy maw before a fade into Georgie’s funeral. 27 years later (eerie right?), in this new movie, just as Georgie inches closer and closer to the storm drain, Pennywise sinks his crocodile teeth into Georgie’s arm, severing it completely. Georgie cries in feeble pain, crawling toward the other side of the street. A gruesome claw reaches out of the storm drain and drags Georgie down inside. The camera holds on the now vacant storm drain, as pools of blood fall into the murky depths below.

IT

It’s obviously a difference of budgets, but it’s also a change in sensibilities. It (1990) aired on ABC at primetime for 17.5 million households. Despite the morbid source material, It (1990) maintains a solid 14A rating. IT (2017) is rated R. IT’s financial success proves not only that the 80s craze is still crazy, but that there’s a good lot of young adults looking for real, gory, 18A scares. And IT earns that rating. The paper boat scene sets the stage for a film loaded with intense, in your face, gruesome gloriousness. It’s all the more obvious when you compare the two versions.

“This isn’t real enough for you, Billy? I’m not real enough for you? It was real enough for Georgie.”

IT leans on old jumpscare tactics in almost every other scene, which holds the movie back from any sustaining creepiness. But unlike dozens of low-budget “horrors” of the last 10 years, the scares are earned. Not because the scare is inherently scary, and not because clowns just have that going for them. It’s more the performances, both Pennywise and the Losers Club (aka 100% of the main cast). The kids behave like kids. It’s hard to put it any other way, but everybody knows just how rare that is in movies. They also each have lived-in, believable characters that work off each other effortlessly. Maybe it has something to do with the 1100 page source material.

IT

Credit where credit’s due. From left to right: Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris; Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak; Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier; Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon; Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough; Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh; and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom.

 

The kids are the heart of the film, and you feel for them. There were moments I came close to crying for them. There were plenty of moments I laughed for them. They’re the light in the dark. The dark is, of course, Pennywise, played by an adeptly deranged Bill Skarsgård. It’s funny that Bill claims in interviews that he was afraid of traumatizing the kids, because he looks like he’s having the time of his life. He’s aided by SFX to bring the demonic side of IT to full front, and it’s as hair-raising as it is eye-candy.

IT

IT is a beautifully batshit crazy film. It won’t leave you with the waking dread synonymous with the novel, but it’ll remind you of the exhilaration synonymous with cinema. I had a blast, and I’m pretty sure you will too, just make sure to see it with a crowd. To quote Pennywise: “Bring your friends!”

My Rating: 9/10

IT

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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