September 18, 2017 It (Movie Review)
“When you’re alone as a kid, the monsters see you as weaker. You don’t even know they’re getting closer… until it’s too late.” Stanley Uris cautiously explains to his friends and fellow members of the Loser’s Club. He seems to understand better than anyone just how monsters really operate, both imagined and realized; and “It” is the worst, most incomprehensible variety of monster out there. “It” not only feeds upon the flesh of manipulated and broken children, but so does it their fears; which are manifested and individualized by the unimaginably sadistic and malevolent entity which has taken the form of a most sinister and eerily childlike, coulrophobia-inducing clown that defines evil incarnate.
It is the new Horror/Drama remake of the 1990 TV mini-series that shares the same title, and which were both based on the infamous novel by Master of Horror Stephen King. Released in US theaters on September 8th via New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc, in conjunction with Katzsmith Productions, Lin Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, and Vertigo Entertainment, it is also one of the greatest Horror films (if not the greatest) to be released not just in recent years, but quite possibly ever. Wait, most are probably thinking, “How could this be? A remake of one of the greatest Horror movie ever?” The answer is yes, and this is how.
The movie was initially written by Chase Palmer (Neo-Noir 2002, Shock and Awe 2004) and Cary Fukunaga (True Detective 2014, Beasts of No Nation 2015), with Fukunaga taking over the role of director. He then dropped the project in 2015 due to micromanaging issues and limited artistic liberties being afforded to him; which is when Writer/Director Andy Muschietti – who created the 2013 film Mama, which was based on his 2008 short of the same name – then took over. Muschietti mostly stuck with the original script, but did omit some scenes which would have pushed the film into NC-17 territory. He then consulted with Gary Dauberman (Annabelle 2014, Annabelle: Creation 2017) regarding slight screenplay revisions and additions.
For a film that took seven years to develop and involved a plethora of changes to both cast and crew, It was a glowing success at the box office and brought in over $117 million on opening weekend in the US alone. The film shattered records, making it the highest grossing debut weekend for an R-Rated Horror movie ever, and the highest grossing release in September ever. Given an estimated budget of about $35 million, It was also surprisingly the cheapest movie to ever hit $100 million on opening weekend.
With that being said, the cast was seamlessly selected to include some of the most talented young actors (and actress) to hit Hollywood in recent years. The film featured Bill Skarsgård (Hemlock Grove series, Atomic Bomb 2017) as the frightening, dancing clown, Pennywise; Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent 2014, Midnight Special 2016) as stuttering yet unrelenting Bill Denbrough; Jeremy Ray Taylor (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip 2015, Ant-Man 2015) as the new kid on the block, Ben Hanscom; Sophia Lillis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2014, 37 2016) as the feisty and fearless Beverly Marsh; and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things series) as the wisecracking and loquacious Richie Tozier – whom also co-directed and starred in the 2017 short, Sonora.
Amongst others, the movie also starred Chosen Jacobs (Hawaii Five-O series, Cops and Robbers 2017) as the conflicted Mike Hanlon; Jack Dylan Grazer (Tales of Halloween 2015, Me, Myself & I series) as the overtly anxious, paranoid “Mama’s boy,” Eddie Kaspbrak; Wyatt Oleff (Guardians to the Galaxy I & II 2014 & 2017) as the quiet and reserved Stanley Uris; and finally, making his feature film debut, Jackson Robert Scott as Bill’s younger brother, Georgie – whose disappearance eight months prior to summer vacation would remain the motivation behind the Loser’s Club assiduous explorations of the sewers and eventual discovery of the psychotic, homicidal creature capable of taking on the form of whatever its victims fear most.
Expanding upon the story portrayed in the original, It tells the tale of seven children who come together to form a crew of outcasts, that refer to themselves as the Loser’s Club, after suffering constant bullying and bonding over their shared traumatic encounters with a ravenous, kid-craving clown that has an insatiable hunger for fear. Once these teens stumble upon Derry’s dark and shocking history surrounding the multitude of unexplained disappearances of many of the town’s children over the last several years, the gang makes it their personal mission to destroy the wickedness which has long plagued their quaint town for centuries, but which still remains uncaught and continues to reemerge every 27 years to collect more kids and kill more cravings. So, the biggest question now is, “Did It live up to all of the hype?”
The answer would have to be an unequivocal “Yes!” Although, with that said, it is worth noting that none of the film’s success would not have even been possible without the many amazing individuals working both onscreen and behind the scenes to ensure supreme justice was done for King’s most famous Horror novel and film adaptation ever.
To begin, the acting in this film could not be any more captivating and convincing than it already was; with Pennywise, Ritchie, and Beverly similarly stealing the show. While Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise initiated nightmares and irrational fears in younger generations, it will be Skarsgård that will forever haunt the minds of moviegoers and instill nightmares and fears far beyond those originally put there by Curry. Creepy and childlike, this new Pennywise elicits spine-tingling terror each and every time he is on the screen. Just as was done with Curry in the original, Skarsgård was also isolated from the rest of the cast until filming actually took place, because Muschietti wanted genuine fear to shine when Pennywise interacted with the kids for the first time.
Wolfhard, on the other hand, was a definite bright spot in this scary, menacing film, as his sarcastic humor was so naturally flowing that it kept viewers roaring with laughter. His humor was welcomed and appreciated for breaking up the film’s frightfully overpowering intensity. Lillis’ character was what most dads wish their daughters could be – a badass little tomboy whose reckless courage put her ahead of the boys when it came to protecting herself and those she truly loved and cared for.
The cinematography was dark, mesmerizing, and powerful; which when coupled with a subtle, suspense-building score and a fun throwback soundtrack that was totally 80s, made for better scares, higher screams, harder laughs, and overall happier viewers. The special effects and gore were flawless and frightening, and the change in timeline from the 1950s to the 1980s was just the right move; with an extra kudos thrown in for the passage of time being depicted by change in classic movie posters plastered to the walls of the local theater. The changes that were made all seemed to only enhance the story instead of take away from it.
This movie was such an exquisite work of cinema in every possible sense of the word. It was a dose of modernized nostalgia that lingered long after the movie ended. With brilliant direction, remarkably gifted, raw talent, horrifyingly convincing special effects and gore, intense scares, and a score just as magnificently picturesque as the cinematography itself, CrypticRock cannot help but give It 5 out of 5 stars.