It - 2017
It is the second attempt to adapt one of Stephen King’s most beloved stories of the same name, the first being the 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry as Pennywise. This new version is directed by Andy Muschietti, best known for his horror hit, 2013’s Mama. The screenplay was written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, with Dauberman being the horror veteran giving us this year’s Annabelle: Creation and next years The Nun. The story centers around a group of kids being hunted by a monster that has taken the appearance of a clown, Pennywise.
Quick note before I start the review. I watched this movie with my wife and she fears clowns. It took her around 2-3 hours to calm down after the screening. To quote her, “I’m emotionally drained.” Sounds fun, right? Let’s start.
Andy Muschietti is now 2 for 2 within the horror genre. While I didn’t love his first go around in Mama, I enjoyed the movie and saw a lot of potential and talent. This time around, Muschietti built and maintained a tone of suspense from beginning to end. Having each kid’s encounters with Pennywise being unique to their fears kept me and the audience on our toes not knowing how he is going to act. One huge credit that goes to him as a director is how he managed to pull all-around great performances from each of the kids. This movie could’ve easily gone down the drain in the hands of another director and a different set of child actors.
Quick note: his use of practical effects mixed with CGI effects was perfect, never over-using either one, it only helped the visuals pop even more in the finished product.
Chung-hoon Chung has quickly become one of my favorite cinematographers in cinema. He is behind some of the greatest visuals in some of my favorite movies. He worked on the original Old Boy, Lady Vengeance, Stoker and The Handmaiden. Chung brought some creepy and disturbing imagery to the world of Stephen King. There are many sequences that are stuck in my head, and the use of red balloons will probably ruin the balloon industry for a while. My favorite visual was of Pennywise holding up multiple balloons next to an abandoned house.
Quick note: the sound design, while familiar to horror fans, was still utilized to heighten the scares the visuals are producing. Some of the sounds and noises arrived and ended abruptly, always keeping me on my toes.
It has a wonderful cast from top to bottom. Honestly, I could nitpick on a couple of the characters, but their flaws are so minor that it’s not worth pointing-out. The main group, “The Losers”, is comprised of Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff and the hilarious duo of Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer. They completely stole this movie. I loved their chemistry as a group. It was a throwback to 80’s movies like Stand by Me and The Goonies, seeing the kids take matters into their own hands since they are the only ones that are willing to put up a fight is a staple of does movies. I loved how all reacted to their fears embodied by Pennywise and how they found a way to draw strengths from each other.
Bill Skarsgård literally and figurately had huge shoes to fill coming in to this movie. Get it? Clown shoes are big. Comedy gold. The original Miniseries isn’t considered to be a masterpiece, but Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise is the highlight of the original. Skarsgård made this character his own thanks in part to the advancements in the CGI department. I loved the voice he gave Pennywise and the way he emphasized certain words gave him a playful tone, even though everything he said sounded creepy. He is flat-out a scary addition to the horror villain rogue’s gallery.
I will be honest, when the It remake was announced my eyes rolled back so hard that I saw repressed childhood memories in the back of my head. But after walking out of this film completely impressed by the final product, I’ll be the first to admit that I was completely wrong. If they decide to do the second chapter of this movie, I hope all the minds behind the camera return to close out the series. While the kids are the stand-outs, I trust Muschietti and Chung to deliver the scares once again. Chung’s cinematography is why I love movies.
It is currently playing in theaters. Stop clowning around and go watch it.
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