It is the latest adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel. Set in the summer of 1989, the story revolves around a group of outcast children in Derry, Maine who must work together to defeat a supernatural entity that takes the form of a clown named Pennywise who preys on their worst fears. I’m not the biggest horror fan, but still decided to see It because the trailers intrigued me and plenty of anticipation surrounded this mainstream horror movie. As someone who has neither read the 1100-page book, which the movie only covers the first half of, nor seen the 1990 miniseries, I don’t think this new version is as good as some critics are saying, but is still worth seeing in theaters.
On a technical level, It is mostly amazing. Cary Fukunaga, who directed True Detective Season 1, was originally supposed to direct this movie but left due to creative difference even though he’s still credited as one of the writers. While I would’ve liked to see Fukunaga’s take, director Andy Muschietti does a great job at creating a tense atmosphere and helpful creepy imagery; certain jump scares and noticeable CGI did deflate some of that tension but they mostly occur towards the end. Chung-hoon Chung’s cinematography is amazing because it’s not only a sight for sore eyes but also uses interesting camera techniques that add to the suspense. Additionally, Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is worth mentioning since it especially amplifies the more intense scenes.
The performances and characters are another area where this film shines. Each member of the Loser’s Club played well off each other and I hope this film gives the lesser-known actors more exposure. Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things is a standout because he delivers funny lines without appearing as annoying. Although It establishes the main character’s fears, the film should’ve taken more time to develop most of them. Now I can’t compare Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise to Tim Curry’s because I’ve never seen the miniseries, but the former excels as the titular protagonist in his own right; the way he talks and moves makes him a terrifying force to be reckoned with.
The writing is where It is the most flawed, but that doesn’t necessarily make the film bad. Many critics enjoy It because of how it’s more of a coming-of-age movie than a horror story and I agree with that for the most part; watching these children come together to face their fears was great but I would’ve liked to see more. At a 135-minute runtime, the film moves at a fairly steady pace although some scenes do feel unnecessary in retrospect.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
It isn’t the best horror movie of the year but it’s still a good one. While the screenplay could’ve been better, the terrific lead performances and chilling atmosphere are reason enough to see this film in the theater. Anyone who’s into horror or is interested based on the marketing should see It.