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 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.
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, Detroit) could 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.
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.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on It? Comment down below!
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