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Film Review – It (2017)

Many pointed to the adaptation of Stephen King’s It as one of their most anticipated films of the fall season.  Upon the release of the initial trailer, talk of the film broke records on YouTube as people couldn’t get enough of that scary, disgusting clown they call Pennywise.  Now, that creepy clown is here to play as It has finally made its way to theaters.

It

Synopsis

It is directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard (what a name!), and Jaeden Lieberher among many other kid actors who play characters that are frightened of demonic clowns.

We follow a group of kids, known by many as “The Losers’ Club,” as they come of age in the remote town of Derry, Maine.  Although the town seems to be quiet, disappearences (especially among children) far exceed the national average, causing the kids to question what is occurring.  Through a journey of self-discovery, the kids learn that the culprit responsible for years of violence is an evil clown by the name of Pennywise (Skarsgard).  In order to fight off this force, the kids must face their greatest fears as they come to life.

Background

An adaptation of It has been in development for quite some time.

In 2009, Warner Bros. announced that an adaptation was on the way with director Cary Fukunaga (of True Detective fame) signing on to direct a year later.  The film was under development for awhile when it was announced that Fukunaga was no longer going to be a part of the project, citing the ever-nebulous “creative differences” reason.  At this point, many considering the project to be dead in the water as the script would need a serious rewrite to get the project back on track.  Stephen King himself tweeted that “The remake of IT may be dead—or undead—but we’ll always have Tim Curry. He’s still floating down in the sewers of Derry.”

Thankfully, Andy Muschietti came aboard and Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema found a writer partner in Gary Dauberman.  However, they ran into another problem in the casting of Pennywise.  Will Poulter (The Maze Runner, The Revenant, Detroitcould no longer play the part due to scheduling conflicts.  After many different choices, including Tilda Swinton of all people, Muschietti and Co. finally landed on Bill Skarsgard.

From there, things finally pointed towards a final product that would be as terrifying as Stephen King would have hoped.

Talk About Lovable Losers!

One of my biggest pet peeves in horror films, or any films where the main characters are at risk of dying for that matter, is that the movie is too concerned in making a creepy monster or set piece that it fails to create memorable characters.  In the case of It, that couldn’t be futher from the truth.  The film takes it time to set up each of these kids.  In a refreshingly raunchy manner, these kids talk like sailors, making dirty joke after dirty joke.  Parents, although your kid may seem like an angel, he or she definitely says some naughty things behind your back.  It’s very pleasant to see a movie that treats kids with a sense of realism.

The film manages to make you care about seven main characters, something that is close to impossible to do.  Each of these kids has a lovable quirk about them.  Whether it be a fear of germs or their quick wit, you become completely invested in the story because you love these kids so much.  The Losers’ Club is unquestionably the best part of It, even if the title of the film would make you think otherwise.

Finn Wolfhard (again, what a name!) deserves all the credit in the world.  Almost acting as the audience surrogate to the situation, Wolfhard is unbelievably funny.  For a movie that has a child eating clown at its core, It is surprisingly pretty hilarious.  Whatever flaws It has are mostly covered up due to these irresistably lovable characters and moments.

Avoids the Pitfalls of Most Horror Films

Most horror films are scary for the sake of being scary.  When you take a step back, you quickly realize that there really isn’t much substance to them.  However, this particular film has an idea at its core that is incredibly fascinating as well as layered.  As these kids grow and mature over the course of a summer, they must encounter what they fear most.  These manifestations of their dread come from all different shapes and sizes.  But, what they all have in common is that they have connections to what makes these characters who they are.

As we get more scares and go deeper into the storyline, we grow closer to these underdogs.  It has a truly affecting narrative in ways that may be a surprise to some.  The kids are great, and the storyline gives them something to do that makes them even better.

It May Not be as Scary as You Think

I’d certainly be lying if I said that Pennywise wasn’t creepy and frightening, because he’s undoubtedly a horrifying creature.  When given the opportunity to shine, Bill Skarsgard certainly does not disappoint.

However, as shocking as it may seem, the least effective moments to the film are where Pennywise is directly involved.  Many of his scares are often fleeting, leaving the screen before they have the chance to create a lasting image that you then take with you as you leave the theater.  In some cases, the scares are so effects-heavy that you may get sucked out of the scene altogether.

For lack of a better term, It lacks a certain “it factor” in some of its scenes.  Like other horror films, you’ll find yourself questioning the sanity of The Losers’ Club and why they insist on following traps or going into places.  The movie definitely subverts some cliches, but it’s definitely not without them.

Final Thoughts

It may be one of the more purely entertaining films of the year.  Does it have it flaws?  Sure, but there’s something in this movie for everyone.  It’ll make you scared, laugh, and maybe even cry.  At its core is a very touching and heartfelt movie that gets you completely attached to all these characters.  At the end of the day, that’s what a movie should do.  It gets a B+.

It is a great time at the theaters.  Hopefully the box office will finally recover with its release.

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Thanks for reading!  What are your thoughts on It?  Comment down below!

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*Quotation via Twitter

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Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society.

33 Responses

  1. Pamela Baker says:

    Never been one much enthralled by clowns – your review makes one want to really see “IT”. I just subscribed as I find your reviews (or the few I read) are honest without all that “hollywood babble” that is only trying to sell a movie – no give a review that makes one want to know every character.
    Looking forward to more reviews in the future!

    • Nick Kush says:

      Thanks so much! I’ve attempted to give honest, straight-forward reviews that just give you more info on whether or not you should see the movie for yourself. I’m glad they’ve had some positive effect on you!

  2. karenjo46 says:

    I’m watching this tonight!!! I saw the original movie longggg time ago and loved it. Hopefully I’ll enjoy this one.

  3. I only skimmed through (as I have yet to see the movie, I am hoping the week coming I can get to a showing) but I didn’t notice anywhere mentioning that it WAS NOT a remake, which A LOT of people think it is. maybe you could go back and edit it to note that as many people won’t see a movie if it is. Its not a reboot or redo either.

    also I included a link to your review in my upcoming review. (I usually try to add one or 2 reviews before I read them so my readers know I’m not being biased

    • Nick Kush says:

      Thanks so much! I don’t think that note is a big deal, if people want to see it, they’ll see it. Judging that the movie broke the record for a September opening, I’d say it’s doing just fine lol

  4. Thanks for another great review. I will say this movie was definitely anticipated by many. It killed in the box office, but I will say horror movies of this substance are supposed to have some level of fun to them. While I wasn’t scared in the least by Pennywise, I’m sure if I encountered him on the street it might be a different story. I try to put on a brave face. I hope to never have the actual encounter. I agree there wasn’t enough Pennywise’s face/body to really scare anyone deep down minus the kids/teenagers. I did not like his head moving back and forth. This did nothing for me. It still was enough to make me want to see the second part. Cheers and have a great day.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Totally agree with you there! I wonder since the second part of It is much less interesting than the first half they might choose to focus on Pennywise which could be verrrrrrrry interesting!

      • I hope they do focus on Pennywise or revamp the second half like no one’s business. I was thinking the other day what it might be like for Pennywise to age just a tad. They definitely need to make it worthwhile in terms of his demise at the end, if they go that route. My roommate said the TV series had actors that tried too hard to be funny. It will be interesting to see what happens.

      • Nick Kush says:

        The second half of the miniseries is bizarre. There’s out of place sexual tension and downright horrible acting lol

  5. I absolutely love how you write as if you are having a conversation with someone. It definitely makes your dissection of the film easier to understand for the audiences planning on seeing it.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Thanks so much! That’s what I try to do, just keep things casual! I always hate it when reviewers try to discuss film with flowerly language. They end up losing the audience by trying to sound smart lol

  6. Awesome review! I saw the film last night and pretty much agree with your conclusion. I’m hoping this will spark more creativity in the horror genre. Please check out my review (https://nerd-feed.com/2017/09/09/movie-review-it/) and let me know what you think.

  7. Steve says:

    Okay, here’s my question: does it contribute anything as a remake? I haven’t seen it yet, just honestly asking.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I think it’s just better overall. There’s some changes made from the miniseries but this one is far better done with better acting and storytelling.

      • Steve says:

        I have my doubts but I guess now there’s only one way for me to be sure…

      • Nick Kush says:

        It’s definitely different than the miniseries, but I found the kids so much more engaging and likable in this version.

      • Steve says:

        The reviews I’ve read so far seem to focus on the acting and pacing but I didn’t have a problem with either in the miniseries so I don’t know what it would offer me. I’ll see if I can’t come by a viewing somehow but I don’t think I’ll be paying for this one.

      • Nick Kush says:

        That’s understandable. I’m a little younger so I don’t have that same attachement to the miniseries as many people do.

      • Steve says:

        Yes, when I’m honest with myself I’m sure a lot of my favorites are my favorites due to childhood influence and not on the merits of the films themselves. It’s possible, anyway 😉

      • Nick Kush says:

        Lol it definitely is! I’m guilty of the same thing for movies of my generation.

  8. I don’t know about this one. Clowns are creepy enough in real life without the Stephen King Treatment. The character development you describe does sound worth a watch, though.

  9. raistlin0903 says:

    I have seen the original miniseries, and I was already looking forward to this one a lot. All the positive reviews for it, including yours, have made me look forward fo it even more. Great post as always 😀

  10. David says:

    As a part of the generation that’s still traumatised by Tim Curry’s Pennywise, it’ll be interesting to see how this stacks up against the nostalgia alone.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I would say that this is a nice update to that story. The 1990 It can’t help but feel a little dated and I think this version will definitely be resonant to a lot of people!

      • David says:

        Oh yes, definately too dated for modern audiences. The pacing alone I’ve noticed was much slower in those days. It was still a great movie though. And I’m hoping to enjoy this too. Thanks for the review, Nick.

      • Nick Kush says:

        You got it! Happy to help!

  11. I never saw the first adaptation and not sure if I’ll check this one out.

    • Nick Kush says:

      It’s a really interesting movie. It’s kind of like Stand By Me meets A Nightmare on Elm Street. If you have the stomach for creepy clowns, I’d recommend it!

  1. October 5, 2017

    […]  nor read I don’t know if they liked it or not I do this so you know I am being fair   Here’s Movie Babble’s review & a video […]

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