Hello, Freaks! I finally got a chance to go see the new adaption of STEPEHN KINGS literary classic, IT. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post up a review. Please keep in mind, this review WILL have spoilers. So PLEASE, if you have not seen the film, stop reading this and wait until you see the film.
Over the past week and a half, this film has caused quite a stir. Breaking box office records for horror, drawing in not just horror fans, but it seems like everyone is going to see IT. In Facebook groups alone it has brought out the best, and worst, in people. In our group it even started a controversy between die hard fans and the people that disliked it. A couple people were ultimately banned over this. I know the horror community has strong feelings about their favorite films, but we should not let it get between us the way I have seen online. We are better than that. If you didn’t like the film or if you loved it, its an opinion. We all have them. But on the bright side, the popularity of this film means a lot to the future of horror. This proves that horror films deserve a spot at the table when it comes to major studio releases, and that you don’t have to water a film down with a PG13 rating to draw in more profits.
Before I get too far in, I do want to add that I went into this with a an open mind. I love the old miniseries, but I do not want to compare the two. One is a made for TV show, one is a film. They just both happen to be based on the same book. So without further ado, lets dive into this film.
After years of being let down by major Hollywood horror, I have to say, I was impressed. The film was shot on a fairly small budget, compared to other major releases, and I honestly think that is one thing that sets the film apart from a lot of others. With the smaller budget they relied more on settings, acting, lighting and getting the atmosphere right. The cinematography is amazing in the film. The film has a very eerie dark look to it at times, and it worked. They also used a good amount of practical effects, but a lot were enhanced digitally. This is one part of the film that let me down just a bit. I’m not a big fan of computer effects, but all and all id say they used them well. The only parts that really jumped out at me as not being done that great, were the scenes when Pennywise comes out of the projector screen. It was all great until the moment he just kind of “appeared” there between slides in giant form. I feel like that scene could have been done a bit better, or just cut without him leaving the screen. The other moment was near the end, in the floating chamber when Beverly awakes and the shutter opens showing Pennywise dancing…Too me it just seemed odd with the shaky/rotating camera and the background didn’t flow well. Aside from that, the CGI looks the best that it can.
The practical effects look really good. I love the Pennywise look, and make-up. I think the make-up team did a fantastic job. The special effects team did really well also. I thought the bloody bathroom scene was done wonderfully, the looks of Georgie’s bleeding arm in the street, the stabbing and cutting scene all worked great. Top notch in this department. As for the score of the film, I think it fit very nicely. I have always been a fan of Benjamin Wallfisch and I believe he composed this beautifully.
The acting in this film really stands out. I have to give major props to the kids. They did a fantastic job. They felt like a real group of friends. Finn Wolfhard won me over on his acting ability in the Netflix Original series STRANGER THINGS. His portrayal of Richie was no different. He played the nerdy, yet wisecracking, personality perfectly. His jokes, and comebacks, felt natural and they were funny. Jack Dylan Grazer was hilarious as Eddie; the asthmatic, hypochondriac, worrier or the group. Jeremy Ray Taylor did very well as Ben; the awkward, over weight, new kid in school. Overall I would say all of the kids in the Losers Club showed some real talent. The biggest stand out for me though was Sophia Lillis as Beverly. The camera absolutely loves her, and I thought her performance was amazing. The tense, uncomfortable scenes with her abusive father were so raw and real. I predict she will have a very successful career in acting for years to come. I do wish we could have seen a little more back story, or build up on the bullies. They seemed way over the top bad to not have some reasoning behind it. For example the scene where Henry and gang attack Ben. They go from normal bullying, to carving his name in Bens stomach with the knife. That just seemed way out of place without some type of reasoning behind it. Same with their hatred for Mike. I do think, however, that Nicholas Hamilton played the part he was given pretty good. He seemed like a 80’s bully with his acting and the hair style. The other two bullies weren’t that special, or memorable. I did enjoy Patrick’s(Owen Teague) death scene in the sewer. The child zombie/creatures were actually pretty cool.
As for Pennywise, I think Bill Skarsgård did a really good job with the character. I do believe it was pretty true to how I would picture Pennywise from the book. He made Pennywise a very dark and creepy entity. I enjoyed the scene when he was attacking Eddie, and Bill & Richie overcame their fear and went through the Not-Scary-At-All door. The reaction moment that Pennywise had when sensed what they had done, just stood out to me. Also again at the end, when they all face off and start losing their fear of Pennywise, you can really see the fear creeping up in Pennywise’s face. To me that shows some skill on his part to pull that off so well.
He just has that look that fits the role. Pennywise looked really good on camera, from the outfit to the make up, it worked. If I had one complaint about the character, it would probably be his voice. In general, I think he did fine with the voice, and he sounded playful, yet creepy. But a time or two, on a couple words, it almost sounded a little Scooby Doo-ish, So that was a bit distracting for me in those brief moments.
The writing and directing in the film were solid. Andy Muschietti I feel brought the script to life in a really good way. As I had said before, by Hollywood standards, IT didn’t have a huge budget. So I give a lot of credit to Andy for making this film do something that no other American horror film in the last several years has been able to pull off. Make the film feel like a horror movie. That may seem like an odd statement, but I believe it is true. When you look at other big Hollywood horror films, they are geared toward the “mainstream” audience. They have a big budget look to them, lack on story telling and character development, rely on jump scares to the point it ruins the movie, and are generally rated PG13 which I feel takes away from what a horror film should be. Horror films need to push the limits, take risk, and try to scare you without relying on throwing money at something until it works. That takes an eye for the art. This film feels like you are watching a horror movie. Its a feeling I have missed so dearly over the years. Its hard to describe what I mean by feel. Its the same feeling I get when I watch the classics like Halloween, Last House on the Left, or The Thing. Its a hint of dread, of darkness and suspense. Not so much fear, but a craving for more. A want. You want to see more. You want to see what this world inside the film has to show. To me, that’s what makes a horror film. I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed horror movies over the recent years, because I have. But they didn’t give that feeling.
IT did something you don’t see much of in Hollywood horror. It wasn’t afraid to kill kids. I mean in opening part of the film we see Georgie’s arm ripped off, and the kid crawl away bleeding and screaming. That caught my attention from the very start. I touched on it earlier, but I wanted to bring up jump scares again. It seems more and more films rely on jump scares to be scary. I’m not a fan of that. I like jump scares, don’t get me wrong, but there is a huge difference in using jumps scares vs relying on them. IT uses them wisely. The director knew when to use a creepy reveal rather than throwing it out as a jump scare. I’ll give an example. The scene where Stanley faces his fear of the painting in his fathers office. When the picture fell, I was expecting a run of the mill, him turn and BAM jump scare. But it wasn’t. The camera turns and we see the figure in the back ground looming behind him before the attack. A few other scenes take this route, and it was refreshing to see.
The film does have a scene that drags on too long, to the point that it honestly got a little uncomfortable. That’s the seen with the kids at the lake. Unlike some reviews that thought it should have been cut completely, and was just sexualizing children, I didn’t really feel it went THAT far. As I understand kids, especially being set in the 80’s, swam in their underwear a lot. I have, Its what kids did, and its believable and realistic. My complaint is once they got out of the water, that scene went on a little too long showing them in their underwear. It seemed weird watching. I feel like the scene could have been done a little better by having them getting dressed for that scene by the lake. As I said, I don’t think its a major thing, or impacts the film in a negative way like some have said, just my opinion and how I felt about it. The only reason I even brought it up is I see it mentioned a lot.
Overall, I highly recommend this film. It brought horror back to Hollywood, and the box office numbers reflect it. I will be going back to see them film in theaters at least once more to take my daughter, and honestly I am looking forward to a second viewing myself.
My rating for IT(2017), is a very rare one from me. I give this film a 9/10.
For more on the film, and the full cast & crew, please visit the IMDB Page