It – Movie Review

movie reviewI haven’t seen the 1990 TV Mini Series of IT for quite some time now but remember liking it. Watching it when I was younger definitely scared me. Even if they had to tone down the scary parts since it was made for TV. Especially the first part with the kids, I found nicely done. Audiences since then grew desensitized I think and therefor a new interpretation of Stephen King’s novel had to be more shocking and more scary. Did they succeed? Well, to a degree they did.

Instead of setting it in the 60s (like in the book) they updated it to the late 1980 (1989 if I remember right). Moving it there makes absolute sense and enables the second part of the story to play in 2017. If you haven’t seen the TV Mini Series or read the book, the story is pretty simple. A group of kids is forced to battle an shapeshifting entity in a small town. The preferred form of the entity is a clown so it is able to lure kids into a trap more easily. It seems that the creature feeds on fear for the most part. Every 27 years or so it comes out of the shadows and haunts that small town. Kids disappear left and right and no one seems to wonder about it. Our ‘Losers Club’ of kids wants to end it and find out what happened to newly missed kids. Among these missing kids is the younger brother of Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher). Along with his friends Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) he wants to find his brother and find out what is going on in the town. All of them get a scary visit by IT/Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), which makes them bond even tighter. In the end they all decide to muster up the courage to fight IT.

The film is trying to balance the more scary horror elements with the experience the kids have in the late 1980s. The film manages it to create a nice atmosphere and paints a nice picture of the time. We see how that group of friends comes together through their experiences with Pennywise. All of them have to go through some nightmarish things and they soon understand that there is more going on than just missing children. All of the kids are very good but the standout for me is Beverly played by Sophia Lillis. She did a fantastic job of portraying her character as (in my eyes) the toughest and, at the same time, most vulnerable character of the group. If I were part of that group I would have probably fallen in love with her. All of the kids get their moment to shine and they all use it. Some good direction by Andy Muschietti. All of them had my sympathy and I wanted the group of kids to succeed and beat Pennywise.

Talking about Pennywise! The iconic portrayal of Pennywise by Tim Curry in the 1990 Mini Series was outstanding. Even if he only had a couple of scenes throughout the 3h runtime… he managed to leave a strong impression. Bill Skarsgard had to fill these expectations. The direction, art design and presentation of Pennywise in this new film definitely helped to bring him close to Tim Curry’s performance. I would say they both are equally good. And both are slightly different takes on the character. All of the scenes with Pennywise worked and delivered some creepy moments. My favourite is a scene where our group of kids check out some dia pictures to learn more about the past of the town. Suddenly hell breaks loose.

The creepy and scare scenes are the ones a film like this is measured by and the film certainly delivers. In the beginning we see how Bill’s brother gets captured by Pennywise and immediately know that it’s a film for adults. It sets the right mood and what’s at stake right from the get go. Loved that decision! Throughout the film I admit I had some goosebumps here and there (which only very rarely happens!). But I cannot figure out why. I wasn’t exactly scared by these particular scenes. In the beginning I noticed that they installed a new Dolby Atmos soundsystem into the theater. Maybe it was indeed the sound design that made me react that way. The sound in this film was mixed very good and certainly added to the thick atmosphere in it. Although I must say that I would have wished for some more quiet sequences. Pretty much all horror scenes are accompanied by loud sound effects. Almost a little too much. Last but not least I must say that the film tried to avoid jumpscare moments. They are there but not used to a degree where it becomes annoying.

Almost a little too much was the rollercoaster ride between the friendship moments of the kids and the horror sequences. The film switched back and forth. It had to do that for the story to make sense and I understand that. All the kids individually needed a scene where they confront their fears. At the end of the film I was on the verge of being a little exhausted by it though. Both the friendship and horror sequences do work nicely. Although I must say that I enjoyed the friendship moments and interaction between the kids (when they’re not part of a horror sequence) a little more. They do have a great chemistry and it shows on screen.

So, will this film become a classic? I really am not sure. It certainly is an above average horror movie and I hope it will find a good audience. It actually did already, being one of the most successful movies this year. Now the task of the filmmakers is to find good personnel for the second chapter of the story, when we see the ‘Losers Club’ as adults. I hope they manage to keep the atmosphere and tone. And with the success of this film they should be able to get a neat cast too. Fingers crossed! However, tonally the second film has to be very different. It’s about adults and the (now so) hip nostalgia beats wouldn’t work and make the film cheap. So they have some work to do to make the two films work as a whole. If they succeed with the second film it could indeed elevate this first film into a ‘modern classic’ status.

It is a nice movie for the big screen. Go see it if you have the chance! Not sure if there is a 3d version but 2d is absolutely fine and enough for this one.

A 7.7/10 for me.

It on IMDb

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