Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis, Jack Dylan Grazer
Director: Andy Muschietti
Running Time: 135 Minutes
Rating: R for all the “HOLY FUCKING SHIT’s” Screamed by Your Fellow Moviegoers
Release Date: September 8, 2017
In a world of unnecessary remakes and money-grubbing reboots, one can understand the fear of this retelling of the Stephen King classic falling into the same category. However, you can rest easy, because IT stands not only as exactly what a film remake should be, but also as one of the best horror movies in recent memory.
The building block of any good film is its casting, a particularly difficult task to perfect when most of the actors are children. All 7 of the 13-14 year old Losers boast seamless chemistry, showing us exactly why the relationships they form with one another are so vital to their survival in their fight against IT. With particularly stellar performances from Finn Wolfhard as the loud-mouthed, sarcastic Richie and Sophia Lillis as the troubled yet kind-hearted Beverly, the ensemble makes it so that you seem to be laughing along with them as often as you are to be cowering in fear. Speaking of cowering in fear…
The one really great aspect of the original film adaptation of IT from 1990 was Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, so Bill Skarsgård had some truly big shoes to fill, literally and figuratively because he’s, you know, a clown. While Curry’s Pennywise was jovial and goofy to the point of coming off like an actual clown (other than the whole murderous demon thing), Skarsgård’s portrayal is far, far more menacing. Pennywise does still have his signature chuckles and speech patterns similar to that of a child, but Skarsgård’s haunting onscreen presence makes you shudder every time you see him. The way he moves, the way he smiles at you, the way he enunciates certain words differently than others, it all blends together beautifully and makes this version of Pennywise one of the scariest movie monsters I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Complementing the excellent cast is some positively fantastic cinematography. The use of lighting, particularly in the indoor and underground scenes, gives the audience the same sense of helplessness felt by IT‘s characters. We feel trapped and isolated, as if we too are at the mercy of a seemingly unstoppable force of pure evil. As the kids run from Pennywise and IT’s other representations of their greatest individual fears, our heartbeats do the same. As they narrowly escape his clutches, we sink into our seats with a satisfying sigh of relief. From the opening scene in which we have a close up view of a child having his arm ripped clean off to the epic climax, the tension brought upon us by Muschietti’s directing is as engrossing as it gets. This goes for the sound editing as well, as it makes IT‘s jump-scares feel far less cheap and more atmospheric and organic than those seen in most modern horror films.
IT is possibly the best horror adaptation from Stephen King’s vast catalogue of source material since The Shining and one of the best movies of 2017 so far. The film succeeds on every level it shoots for: it’s entertaining from beginning to end, it’s genuinely funny, and it’s absolutely terrifying. Perhaps most of all, it sticks with you long after the credits roll, as any great film should. IT is a movie that anybody who is brave enough to make it to the theater should see…just don’t walk by any sewer grates on your way home.
IT is Recommended If You Like: The Babadook, It Follows, The Witch, anything Stephen King related
Grading: 5 out of 5 Floating Red Balloons