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Horror Review: It (2017)

Written by Josh Brewer, September 10th, 2017, at 2:00 a.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer


Title: It (2017)

Director: Andres Muschietti
Writer: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Based on It by Stephen King
Release Date: September 8th, 2017
Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Bill Skarsgard

Cliff’s Notes

A group of kids discover their town houses a seemingly all powerful monster with a hell of an sweet tooth. And what does it prefer to a good old PB&J? Children. Yummy, delicious children.

Lecture

Let’s be clear, I walked into this summer with three Stephen King flicks on the docket. And the first sucked. So. Hard. Luckily, I had It (2017) to look forward to, so I felt like I may be able to feel a little better about seeing the latest King yarn on the screen. And boy, did I get lucky.

It (2017) works in a pair of amazing ways. First and foremost, It is a fantastic horror flick. The slew of scares come early and often, each packed to the brim with evil craziness. The events on screen get a major boost from the cast who, beyond being awesome actors, are all age appropriate. Like Battle RoyaleIt (2017) gets a ton of mileage our of having a young cast, upping the ante in terms of tension and scares. Because the kids are younger, because they are limited, everything hits so much harder.

But It is even more fantastic in using horror you construct a metaphor about the difficulties of growing up. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Babbadook before It – see what I did there?- It (2017) uses its monster to parallel the crumbling world around our heroes. Bullies, racism, and child abuse all fall into the scope of It, and once our heroes start to fight back against their literal fears, It becomes even more successful. In fact, it becomes one of the best pure horror flicks I’ve seen in quite a while.

Does that mean everything works well? Pretty much. Sure, there’s a little too much CGI for my taste, and I think the flick could be a little shorter in the second act, but the fantastic cast and scares keep me in my seat and the rest of the flick just rocks.

Acting

I’ve got to be honest, every one of these actors kicks ass. The Losers are, without a doubt, some of the finest child actors I’ve come across. Each and every one of them stands up solidly to the best folks around. I don’t know if I can pull out a stand out, they’re all that good. Speaking of stand outs, Skarsgard takes the role of Pennywise and really makes it his own. It was going to be impossible for him to compete with Curry in the 1990 miniseries, so Skarsgard makes the role all kinds of different. There’s something childish about his monster that combines a kind of amazing joy and complete evil. Does this mean we get a pair of horror icons out of the It movies? Yes. Yes it does.

Directing

Muschietti does all of his work well, showing off a more controlled sense of style from his earlier work, specifically Mama. He manages a few fantastic horror bits and really pulls the best work from his cast and design team. Sure, a few scenes seem a touch repetitive, but with a cast of this size, that may have been unavoidable. Oh, and he threatens children like a boss, showing a fantastic mean streak when the film needs it.

Script

When I see a team of three or more screenwriters, I tend to get a little worried about the quality of the flick. Luckily, It (2017) manages to gather the best parts of the novel, build a fantastic set of characters, and provide a ton of wonderful horror bits. Sure, it does feel a little long in places, but the work here really stands out, especially compared to the other King adaptations out there.

Effects

While not flawless, the CGI gets in the way occasionally, most of the effects here rock. Bonus points go to the perfectly designed Pennywise, who works as the stuff nightmares are made of. We also get a few fun gory bits, so that’s nice too.

Highlights

I know it’s in the trailers, but the photo bit rocks my socks off.

Lowlights

I could use some less CGI… and… that’s about it.

Final Thoughts

A fantastic pure horror jolt to the system, It (2017) does everything right, from the scares to a fantastic cast. I found it even more moving on my second viewing, highlighting the wonderful metaphor work and standout atmosphere.

Grade: B+

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