In an incredibly welcome move, It delivers a healthy dose of scares without sacrificing pacing, story, or character development.
It follows seven young outcasts, self-named “The Losers Club” as they face off against an ancient, shapeshifting creature that takes on the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown as it hunts the children of Derry, using their own worst fears to entrap and destroy them. The Losers must band together and overcome their fears, both supernatural and mundane, to save the town – and themselves – from an utterly gruesome fate.
This new adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name is not just a fantastic horror film – it’s an excellent film in general. While many modern horror films forsake clever writing, solid pacing, and well-developed characters in favor of cheap jump-scares and excessive gore, It proves that a film can be both scary and well-written. The 1990 version of the film, while featuring some chilling imagery (and an amazing performance by Tim Curry), fell victim to some severe pacing and conceptual issues that this new version corrects with aplomb.
A huge point in the film’s favor is the fact that director Andy Muschietti, who directed 2013’s Mama, uses spectacular practical effects wherever possible. In the areas where CGI is used, it is done with precision which serves to add additional levels to the horror of the scene, providing unnerving details and uncomfortable visual distortions, as opposed to distracting the audience from a shortfall or plot hole – as is so common in modern horror.
The brightest point in an already shining example of great filmmaking is the cast. From Jaeden Lieberher’s stuttering Bill Denbrough to Finn Wolfhard’s (Stranger Things) hilariously snarky Richie Tozier, every single one of the young actors played their characters brilliantly and were an absolute pleasure to watch. Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise, on the other hand, is completely and utterly terrifying, complete with lightning-quick, almost schizophrenic, changes in tone, expression, and behavior are scary in an almost primal way – preying on the audience in the same way it preys on the children of Derry.
With a solidly told story, brilliant performances, and excellently pointed scares, It is a truly spectacular piece of horror cinema – one that proves that scary and smart aren’t mutually exclusive.
Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Written by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman, Stephen King
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Runtime: 2h 15min
Post-credits Scene? No.