I remember when I saw clips from the television mini series, It, when I was a young child. The clown, Pennywise, traumatized me. Tim Curry’s performance was eerie and it made me not want to see a clown ever again. Fortunately, I don’t really come across clowns so my fear of them is pretty much gone. The older I got, the sillier the mini series got. Now that mini series isn’t even creepy to many people. Well now things have changed.
Warner Bros. announced in 2009 plans on making It and announced in 2012 that Cary Fukunaga, season one True Detective and Netflix’s Beast of No Nation, would be the director. Two years later, Warner Bros. said the project got moved to New Line Cinema. In May 2015, New Line Cinema announced Will Poulter, We’re the Millers and Detroit, would play Pennywise. Less than a month later, Fukunaga left as director due to creative differences. Then it was finally announced in July 2015 that Andrés Muschietti, Mama, would be the official director and Bill Skarsgård, would later be casted as Pennywise.
So a lot has happened in this eight-year production. People were wondering how the film would actually turn out. It wasn’t until the trailer where people were finally getting excited, including me.
The film is based off of the first half of the book, with the second film to be based off of the second half. It’s Derry, Maine in 1989 and people are missing; more kids than adults. One of the more recent kids to go missing is Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott). His brother, Billy (Jaeden Lieberher) thinks the sewers have something to do with his missing brother. Him and his friends Eddie (Jack Dylan Glazer), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), and Stan (Wyatt Olef) have to deal with the missing of Georgie along with bullies and the supernatural of Pennywise. On their adventure of defeating “it” they befriend Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), and Mike (Chosen Jacobs).
I do think this movie is a very entertaining movie. A lot of people will have a fun time in the theater. Skarsgård as Pennywise is pretty great. His performance is more disturbing than his look by having the sweet child friendly personality like any clown should. Yet it’s the details that went into Pennywise that makes him truly scary. It’s noticeable in his first scene when he’s drooling while talking to Georgie. The way his voice sounds is chilling; it’s something I wouldn’t want to hear in a dark room. Whenever Pennywise is on the screen you can feel the discomfort in the theater because you know something is about to go down. He was always entertaining
The film isn’t entirely about Pennywise, however. The film focuses a lot on the friendship between the kids, or “The Loser Club” as they like to call it. Muschietti as a director decides to add detail on the kids. For the most part, it delves into enough backstory on most of the children. We understand why certain characters act this way due to their parents and why some of them are scared of certain things. It’s clear they’re the underdogs in the story and each child has a different personality and the entire chemistry works superbly.
Though it doesn’t go deep enough on certain characters. Stan is one of the kids who is just feels like a part of the group. He is just the kid who’s scared of a painting. There isn’t much too him. They mention about him trying to be prepared for his bar mistvah, but that’s about it. Mike is gone for a decent chunk of the movie to where it feels like the writers forgot about him, then shoehorned him in with the group. Richie is just the comic relief; there’s nothing deep about him. It’s fortunate enough that the relationship between everyone works well together, because if the chemistry didn’t work, then I’d most likely care less about a few of them.
When the film delves into the more personal development, it adds a different aspect of horror. Beverly, for example, has to deal with a sexually abusive father. Clearly, these moments aren’t meant for jump scares; it’s meant to make your bones chill. It’s similar with Billy’s loss of his little brother; it’s more traumatizing at moments. It’s good directing from Muschietti by being able to show two different types of horror and still make it engaging.
It might be different for many people depending what scares them, but It isn’t scary in my eyes. It’s creepy, but not scary. I wasn’t tense at all like I was hoping to be. There were a couple of times where I was impressed with the horror elements, but a lot of the times it just felt off. It was still clear when a jump scare was going to happen. They even did the old classic trick where you think the jump scare is going to happen but it doesn’t, then after a couple seconds of relief they trick you. When the jump scares happen, the cut goes on just a tiny bit too long making it feel awkward. The look of the monsters Pennywise uses to scare the children don’t even come off as scary. This was a common trend for me throughout most of the movie, but I couldn’t tell if it was intentional to feel off because of Pennywise’s odd personality or if it’s just me.
The humor at times feels like this too. Richie’s non-stop 12-year old jokes can be funny at times, but some of his lines make him irritating. Some of the jokes felt random and really didn’t need to be there. There’s a scene that involves rocks being thrown, and it’s presented in a too satirical way where I think it could have been shown in a more lighthearted way. I’m sure it was meant to feel more like a bonding moments between the children in the group, but it was perceived in a bizarre way.
The score has the perfect blend of horror and bliss throughout the film. If there’s anybody who enjoys listening to film scores, I recommend listening Benjamin Wallfisch’s score for this film because it is some pretty good music. The cinematographer, Chung-hoon Chung, also did great work to now where I’m looking forward to his next film.
There are some cliché things that you can find in almost any Stephen King story and It does have those tropes of the underdogs, the bullies, abusive parents, and the settings. It would have been nice if a few of the kids had more development with their personal lives like some of the other kids in the group, but it’s fortunate enough that the entire group has fantastic chemistry and distinct personalities to still have me root for them. Though the film might be one of the scariest for some, many of the haunting elements felt off because of the weird edits from the jump scares and effects that don’t make it scary. Pennywise by Skarsgård is great for having an eerie performance, but it goes more into details by his movements and really just how he looks at the characters.
IT is more than just a horror movie though; it’s about companionship. Many people will love the film for its ambitions and horror. Some fans of the book might not like it as much. There a great moments in the film that will probably be some people’s favorite scenes this whole year. It’s clearly a better made and more entertaining film than the 1990 television mini series. With the small clues the film offered, it’ll be interesting to see how the second part of this story will turn out on the big screen. Guess well have to wait and see. The sooner the better.