TL;DR – No No NO No NO Nope Oh Hell NO
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
So originally I wasn’t going to go see It, as the week it premiered I was up to my neck with essays to grade, as well as this, I’ve never really been a fan of horror films in general. However, last week a good friend of mine wanted to go see It, so what the hell, what’s the worst that could happen … Now to make a couple of things clear before we start, I haven’t seen the original miniseries, nor read the book, so I can’t tell you how good of an adaptation this is, though given we are talking about Tim Curry and Stephen King I am going to assume there is a very high barrier this film needed to meet, which not all Stephen King adaptations this year have met, yes I’m looking at you The Dark Tower (see review). As well as this, as I said I am not a fan of the horror film genre in general, so that has probably affected how I looked at It.
So to set the scene, it is 1988 and on one rainy day Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) built a paper boat for his brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) so he could race it along the gutters as they fill with water. Bill was sick so he couldn’t go out with Georgie, so he watched from a window as he played. Georgie was having so much fun he didn’t see the sign until he hit his head on it. In that moment he loses track of the boat and as he races to catch up with it, it falls down a storm drain along the side of the road. Georgie is really upset that he lost the boat and he knows Bill is going to be mad, but just at that moment he hears a voice call out from the sewers and the face of a clown appears, the It (Bill Skarsgård) and moments later Georgie is dead and the neighbourhood just moves on. Now as we go on, even though this is based off a 17-year-old miniseries and the still older books, just a warning that there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Now there are a lot of things that work really well with It, the first being the cast. I have not seen a better cast of young actors since probably Stranger Things (See Review), which of course It has to give a lot of thanks to for setting the groundwork for 80s horror narratives into play. Of the Losers Club, I have to give huge props to Sophia Lillis plays Beverly “Bev” Marsh. This was such a difficult role to pull off convincingly and it would have been a role that more experienced actors would have struggled with. Indeed there are a number of scenes in this film, that I wonder how they are able to film them, dealing with issues of abuse and neglect. Throughout the film, each of the Losers Club gets their moment to shine, and the moment they realised that they were stronger together than alone was great to see, though guys you drop your bikes anywhere, even in the middle of the road, do you want a car to run them over. Of course, we can’t talk about It without talking about It or Pennywise the Clown as he appears. Bill Skarsgård is perfectly cast in this role, of being both sickly sweet with that undertone of malice, I can honestly tell you that I did not sleep well the night after watching this film thanks to his performance.
From a production side of things, everything was really top notch. The sets were all fantastic, indeed there was a lot of detail there, and a lot of interesting practical effects that needed to be incorporated that work really well. As well as this, there was some really great use of location shots to help set the scene, location scouts are the unsung heroes of many a production. I also really liked Benjamin Wallfisch score for the film, with a brilliant use of the piano to convey fear.
Now while I thought It was a good film, it was not without its problems. The first being that the tension of the film is completely undercut when you realise about a third of the way through that none of the leads are going to die. So much of the first two acts of the film is It trying to kill a member of the Losers Club as they try to work out what is going on. These scenes are tense and have you on the edge of your seat until you realise no one is going to die. Bar Georgie at the start, most of the deaths of children happen off screen, bar that one gang member that we as an audience are kind of happy that he gets taken out. This means that the film really starts to drag as we go through one scene after another of kids almost but not actually being killed, not this is not as big of an issue as say, mother! (see review) but it was a problem. As well as this, one of the themes of the film is that the adults of Derry are just the worst human beings, but it really stretches the plausibility that someone who is carving his name into other children would be allowed to walk around scot-free. Finally, enough with the dick jokes please, they really outstayed their welcome by about halfway through the film.
As far as horror films go, I think this is one of the better ones I have seen, and while it won’t be on my top ten list at the end of the year I am glad I saw it, even with its issues. Now as the films lets you know this is part one of two, so it will be interesting to see where they go with the sequel, given they will have to recast most of the roles.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of It
Directed by – Andy Muschietti
Screenplay by – Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga & Gary Dauberman
Based on – It by Stephen King
Music by – Benjamin Wallfisch
Cinematography by – Chung-hoon Chung
Edited by – Jason Ballantine
Starring – Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott & Bill Skarsgård
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 16; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R