Review of "IT" by Jason Minton
Watching Movies – Without Your Head
IT – 2017
Production by: New Line Cinema, KatzSmith Productions , Lin Pictures, Rat Pac Entertainment, Veritgo Entertainment
Distribution by: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros.
Every twenty-seven years a monster taking the form of a clown, feeds on the terror in an area now known as Derry, Maine. As one by one the children of Derry go missing, a rag tag group of “Losers” band together to protect their town. Seven kids descend the sewers to face evil where IT lives. Come on down, “You’ll float too.”
Twenty-seven years ago horror master Stephen King’s novel IT was turned into a television mini-series. Every twenty-seven years, the horror returns. This time it’s in the form of a blockbuster Hollywood movie and deservedly so. The IT mini-series was one of the most talked about things to hit television in 1990 and stands as one of the best horror mini-series ever made. This newest incarnation of IT has been talked about for years. Sometimes it takes twenty-seven years to do something right.
As a fan of the book and the original movie, there are things in IT that irritate me. I believe the only reason these things bother me is because I’m a fan of the other two. For those who’ve never read or watched anything IT related, the forthcoming complaints can probably be dismissed. 2017’s IT follows the basic outline drawn by author King as well as the mini-series. IT is its own movie that goes its own direction. My biggest issues with the theatrical version is the loss of the most enjoyable part of the book. The It novel was about the bonding of childhood friends which is what Stephen King writes about best. Horror was almost a background setting to the group of seven friends. In a two hour and fifteen minute runtime, that friendship was only loosely captured. Instead the movie brings the books background angle to the forefront, focusing on scares more than friendship. This brings me to my second biggest issue. Instead of pacing out Pennywise and making it count when IT happens, he’s thrown at the screen a lot. They attempt to go for faster paced scares over a slow build, following suit to most modern day horror films. This was less effective for me personally but the five or six moviegoers, who consistently jumped in the theater at every big scare, rarely missed their mark.
My biggest fear coming into IT version 2 was the casting of Pennywise. I can say as a Tim Curry fan that Bill Skarsgård does an excellent job filling those clown shoes. The voice of his clown stands out specifically. Tim Curry provided a more human version of the clown character while Skarsgård elevates his scares to a monstrous level. Credit also goes to director Andy Muschietti who also directed Mama, for taking this route with the character. The child stars of the film are excellent! Jackson Robert Scott’s Georgie will tug at your heart strings. Jaeden Lieberher plays the perfect Bill, perhaps more fitting than the book character himself. Sure Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) could have been a little bigger, Mike (Chosen Jacobs) could have been a little smaller and Sophia Lillis may have been a little too old to play Beverly but those are minor quibbles over an excellent cast. Age appropriate or not, Lillis does an excellent job as Beverly and reminds me a lot of a young Ellen Page. Finn Wolfhard also reminds me of a child Corey Feldman, which is a compliment and perfect casting as Richie Tozier. Even the bullies in the film are cast well. Some of the characters change a bit from their novel incarnation but the outcome makes for the best part of the film.
The jump scares are plentiful in Hollywood’s big screen version of IT. They take a one off line from King’s novel, “you’ll float too” and beats it to death, even making it a center point of the movie. I believe “we all float down here” was a line only used in the mini-series and it too is made a centerpiece. Some of the realistic human element is lost in unneeded CGI. Some effects seem to be done just to do them. Others pander to what they think modern day horror crowds want. Again these are minor quibbles in what is one of the best horror movies so far this year. In comparison to a book and mini-series, I may dissect the movie a little. As a standalone feature it’s an excellent horror film. I still enjoyed it as a fan of the novel and mini-series as well. More importantly there theater was packed, even bringing out those who tend to skip theatrical releases. The scares may not have gotten to horror faithful like myself, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen so many people jump, scream and yell during a horror movie. One group even had to leave the theater. I highly recommend that everyone interested in seeing it go out to theaters and see IT how IT’s meant to be seen, on the big screen. Support horror by buying a ticket and more horrific things will come.
4 out of 5 Headless Critics
WYH Video Review of IT by Nasty Neal & Terrible Troy
WYH Interview with Marlon Taylor who played Mike Hanlon in the 1990 mini-series IT