Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: Contains violence, offensive language & horror
Jaeden Lieberher as William “Bill” Denbrough
Bill Skarsgård as It/Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Jeremy Ray Taylor as Benjamin “Ben” Hanscom
Sophia Lillis as Beverly “Bev” Marsh
Finn Wolfhard as Richard “Richie” Tozier
Wyatt Oleff as Stanley “Stan” Uris
Chosen Jacobs as Michael “Mike” Hanlon
Jack Dylan Grazer as Edward “Eddie” Kaspbrak
Nicholas Hamilton as Henry Bowers
Jackson Robert Scott as George Denbrough
Director: Andy Muschietti
When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, neighborhood kids band together to square off against Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), an evil clown whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.
As time was going on, 2017’s IT has started becoming one of my most anticipated films of the year. Prior to seeing that movie, I decided to review the 1990 tv mini series. The mini series had its moments but was ultimately a mixed bag, with only Tim Curry’s Pennywise and the kid actors really being particularly good. This new version of IT had me interested however, with its much darker tone. Ultimately it delivered in such a great way, it was everything I wanted this movie to be and more.
First of all I want to clarify that this is not a remake of the 90’s mini series, it’s the second adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, and while I haven’t read it myself from what I can tell, this new film is more accurate to the source material. Something that this movie does quite well is that it only focusses on the kids, it feels a lot more focussed and consistent compared to the mini series, which felt rather jarring when it cut between past and present day (and from the kids to their adult counterparts). This movie is also thankfully rated R, one of the things holding the mini series back (among many things) was that it couldn’t go all out with Stephen King’s darkness. This newer version of IT has the freedom to portray almost anything, at times its actually quite surprising, we see things happen to kids that we don’t usually see. While this is a horror movie, I don’t find it to be the scariest movie ever. It has some creepy and unsettling moments but its not that scary to me (granted I’m not easily scared by horror movies). It’s also not just a horror movie, it is also a coming of age film, so don’t go in just expecting a simple scare-fest. This movie surprisingly has a lot of heart, you really care about these characters and the movie is really about them confronting their fears. IT also has some surprisingly good humour (especially from Finn Wolfhard’s Richie), and it doesn’t feel out of place at all, when present its appropriate and really adds a lot. So this movie has a bit of everything, a little bit of heart, a little bit of comedy, and yes, a whole lot of horror. This movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes long and it feels maybe a little long but I can’t really think of anything I would cut.
Let’s start with the leads, the Loser’s Club, with actors Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophie Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs and Jack Dylan Grazer. All of them were great in their roles, and the chemistry between them is great. They really did feel like real kids, especially with the dialogue between them. It never felt like an older person trying to write for children and being out of touch, it feels real and authentic. Also, you can buy these kids being friends, they are all outcasts and underdogs, and its so easy to root for them. Here’s the thing, it wouldn’t matter how scary this movie is, if the kids failed, this movie would fail, and thankfully they were incredibly great. Honestly the only issue I have is that some of them don’t get enough development, but even then, those characters aren’t weak, ther just needed some more screentime and development.
Bill Skarsgård plays Pennywise the Clown, and he had a lot to live up to. I’ll do my best to try to avoid comparing his version to Tim Curry’s, but I can at least say that it’s a very different version. Bill is absolutely transformative, the way that Pennywise acts is so bizarre and unlike anything I’ve seen in a movie. While I wasn’t particularly scared by the movie, whenever there were creepy and unsettling moments, he was always a part of it. He wasn’t goofy at all, he was never intentionally funny, he was this incredibly bizarre creature that was unnerving to watch. I think one thing that makes him effective (much more than Curry’s version) is that he’s not just a scary clown, he was something more, he’s not just attacking people using only his clown form. Everything from Bill’s acting and 100% dedication, the direction and the visuals was absolutely amazingly done. I honestly can’t compare this performance to any other performance I’ve seen before, that’s how great it was. Pennywise was absolutely one of the best parts of the movie. The only problem I had was that I wanted to see a lot more of him. I have a feeling that director Andy Muschietti wanted to make sure that Pennywise didn’t overshadow the kids, who really are the heart and centre of the film, which I guess is understandable. Let’s just hope that we’ll be getting a lot more of him in the second chapter.
The direction by Andy Muschietti is so great, the cinematography is so beautiful and the visuals look amazing. It really does feel like its set in the 80s, from the music used, to the costume and set design, everything. The set design especially is great, highlights were the sewer scenes, there was such attention to detail. There are a couple moments where some segments feel a little ‘too 80s’, but its not too distracting. The only potential issues I have with the direction is that there was some occasional shaky camerawork in the climax. This movie doesn’t have a whole lot of blood, but when its bloody, it is really bloody, and it feels appropriate. As I mentioned, this movie isn’t really that scary, but it is great at having some unsettling and disturbing moments and imagery. The score by Benjamin Wallfisch is rather suiting, ranging from whimsical and almost Danny Elfman-esque to straight up intense.
IT was great and met all my expectations. Along with the very strong story and direction, the kids were written and acted fantastically and Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise is nothing I’ve ever seen before. Again, don’t go in expecting an extremely scary horror movie, expect a coming of age tale with likable protagonists and a freaky clown who will surely leave an impression on you. It’s one of the best Stephen King movies yet (granted that’s not saying a lot). Even though the second half of the 1990 mini series was rather weak, I can’t wait to see the next chapter. Muschietti did such a great job with this first half that I can just tell that the follow up will be just as great.