Film Review: It (2017)

2017 in Cinema:

It, 2017

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard

 

The theatrical debut of Stephen King’s terrifying novel, It, released, however coincidentally, 27 years after the TV mini-series hit out screens. It is a monster who can shapeshift into the fears of its prey and subsequently feeds on their fear. Generally it settles itself in the appearance of Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. In Derry, Maine, children go missing every 27 years and this year Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and his Loser Club friends find themselves the target of It.

This was a fun film. Last month I reviewed a Stephen King adaptation, The Dark Tower, and that was pretty poor, so it’s nice that they’ve done a good job with It. A popular TV trope is to ‘never work with children or animals’, however the children acting in this film are all brilliant. They sell their fears (each child has a different fear which comes from different places, such as a (possibly sexually) abusive father or a painting) brilliantly, and while they’re brilliant at playing those in fear (of both the bullies and the monster) they also play their friendship really well. For the most part the actors come across as friends, even though they add a couple of people along the way, and the dynamic between the group was really nice to see; they were laughing together, teasing each other, competing at times, all came across really well.

However, the biggest selling point on this film isn’t the children, it’s the clown. Pennywise the Dancing Clown/It (Bill Skarsgard) is brilliant in his role; he speaks rather kindly at times (especially early on with Georgie) but there’s always that undertone of horror in his voice. He looks fantastic, both in CGI moments and without, and genuinely looks sinister. It, as their fears and as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, looks frightening in nearly every scene (especially with Gerogie repeating that Bill will ‘float too’ with the clown appearing from the water). Monster movies tend to sink or swim on their monster and It certainly swims. But what impressed me a lot with this film was how the children had two monsters to contend with: It and the bullies. Brought together as a group because they’ve all been bullied or harassed in the past, the bullies of the town, led by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), are all scary in their own way. They lack caring for the rules and set out to hurt the Losers Club as much as they can whenever they can. This helped the progression of the characters’ confidence, and defending themselves against Henry allowed them to go up and fight It (even if Henry’s psychotic turn towards the end did seem a bit sudden).

The film’s not all brilliant, though. It doesn’t have many moments of pure terror (yes the monster looks scary but he rarely scares you, if that makes sense), instead it has more comedic moments, which were brilliant and funny, but I would have preferred more suspense. And the music, while brilliant, at times seemed a bit much. It is okay for once in a while for a film to have silence, but It utilised a lot of music score, and while the music fit perfectly with the film, too much of it sometimes distracted. The group’s splitting up was rushed, too, as they were all brought back together after Beverly’s (Sophia Lillis) disappearance. A little more time apart would have built up their coming back together more. And, of course, it had its jump scares.

A genuinely good adaptation of Stephen King’s famous novel, It deals with characters, friendship, romance, bullying and an evil entity all in one. The first, of what will likely be two, chapter delivers a really well put together film, it just would have been nicer with a little more suspense.

 

Plot: * * * *

Acting: * * * *

Writing: * * * * *

Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * * ¼

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