It’s the big one, folks, one of the most anticipated films of the fall has arrived, and it’s also one of the most anticipated adaptations of late for a Stephen King novel, and It didn’t disappoint. From a great cast of characters brilliantly acted to well-executed scenes of horror and terrifying images and moments, Andres Muschietti has become an overnight success in the world of horror directors, and while this past summer hasn’t been known for horror films, other examples of late like Get Out (2017), Split (2017), Don’t Breathe (2016), and Lights Out (2016), just to name a few, horror is alive and well.
Based on the brick of a novel that’s been known to damage a person’s foot if dropped upon it, the film follows The Losers Club, seven kids who live in the town of Derry, Maine, and who are growing up in a town where children are known to go missing as commonly as raindrops fall on your head without an umbrella, and the leader of the club, Bill, loses his brother Georgie in a memorable opening sequence. As the kids are one-by-one visited by the demonic Pennywise the Dancing Clown, they realize that he and his entity are responsible and that their parents and the other adults of the town are of no help; it’s up to the Losers to defeat Pennywise and all he stands for, before they all float, too!
Okay, so as I mentioned, the real strength of horror films is the characters. Whether you’re rooting for the villain, like the Nightmare on Elm Street series (1984-present) or Jason from Friday the 13th (1980-present), or the heroes, like the mom from The Exorcist (1973) or the family from Lights Out, you’ve gotta relate to the characters. If you do that, any natural or supernatural actions, depending on the film, will fly and the audiences will accept it. With It, obviously, I rooted for the kids, and for good reason: all seven kids are excellent. For me, there’s no real stand-out, all of them are exceptional, and I’m really excited to see young talent utilized in an R-rated faction where they’re not treated as just kids, they’re real characters in the story. Also, I had a great desire to get more from Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard, and while he’s definitely a supporting player in the film, whenever he’s on screen, I loved it. While I didn’t really root for him, except in the basest nature awaiting violence to get things going, he’s still a character I couldn’t wait until he was back on screen. Also the adult characters, while few in numbers and very limited to screen time, give huge impressions, sometimes just with a weird, creepy smile or an image that will stick with you. Speaking of sticking with you, I can judge the film this way: if you’re a big horror fan and you see everything, there’s nothing really new here. All the jump scares are present, the blood and guts and gore, etc., and if you’re not a horror fan and you find your way in the theater to sit down and watch, you’ll probably jump a few times and get freaked out. And speaking of freaking out, I was pretty calm and entertained watching the film, but that opening scene where Georgie meets Pennywise is a little offsetting with Pennywise’s intro, then when he attacks, which I don’t think is a spoiler by any means, they don’t shy away from the violence toward children, which, again, was very unsettling and made me briefly very scared. That’s the first time in a while in the theater that I’ve had that feeling.
So there’s a lot of strengths to the film, but in the weakness department, there is one member of the Losers club, Mike, who is introduced in the beginning, but then disappears for roughly one-third of the film, which was a bit startling. I was like, “Oh yeah, this guy is in the movie, too”. It felt like everything else was balanced out, but not Mike. Like I said, those who are big horror fans won’t really get too freaked out here, and none of the jump scares got me, with the exception of Georgie nothing freaked me out, so in that regard you can count that as a negative. One more thing, there is a third act decision that involves a character being kidnapped and having to be rescued that felt like a cliche, and I didn’t feel very involved in that. Everything else I got invested in, but not the kickstart to the ending of the film.
Again, there’s a lot of positives here that make up for these flaws that turn the film into one of the great entertainments of the year. It’s not gonna land on my top ten list anytime soon, but it’s certainly a film that is worth seeing if you’re up to it. Again, there is violence toward children and bullying that is depicted in a very realistic way, at times, that will probably unsettle people, but remember, this is a Stephen King adaptation, so if you’re expecting this to be a 100% politically correct safe movie, you’re in the wrong place and asking for the wrong item. Still, for those who can stomach it, which should be mostly horror fans, you’ll find the characters pick up where the jump scares are stale and the quick pace keeps things moving as we get more and more involved in these characters. I can’t wait for the second chapter.
My rating: 9/10.