Released on September 8, 2017 Rating:
Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise.…
Last Saturday, my husband surprised me with a late-night screening of It. I kind of wanted to see it, based on the trailer despite not being a Stephen King fan, and never wanting to see horror movies in the theaters. (I’m a wuss, I prefer to watch horror films at home, during the day, when my husband is home, hiding behind a big pillow. Yes, I am serious.) I’m really glad I saw this though, because I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. And it’s nice to actually be “current” for a change. 😛
I should preface this review by saying I have never read Stephen King’s 1,100-page novel of the same name because it’s 1,100 pages and I’m not really a fan. (I don’t dislike his work, I’m just Switzerland about it.) I also didn’t see the 1990 miniseries because I was only six years old at the time – it’s not something I needed to see and not something I have a desire to watch as an adult. So you know how a lot of reviews are comparing this film to the miniseries or the book – mine won’t do that, mostly. It’s really about the movie itself…
…And the movie itself is good. Surprisingly so. There are several reasons for this: a stellar cast, top-notch direction, fantastic visuals and a totally new approach in adapting an 1,100-page mammoth of a book.
If you are looking for something that is true to the book, you may not love this film because it’s only about halfway there. Unlike the 1990 miniseries, this film breaks away from the book in that it only tells half the story. The book jumps between two time periods, when the main characters are kids and them coming back together as adults to battle “It” again. This movie focuses solely on the childhood timeline, saving the adult portion of the story for a sequel. (And based on the money it’s made opening weekend – a 150-million-dollar profit against its budget – a sequel seems like a sure bet.) Personally, I thought this was smart. Trying to fit 1,100 pages into a single film is a setup for failure. And in terms of the business of making money, why not stretch something into more than one film. Brilliant.
Andy Muschietti did a phenomenal job in terms of directing. When all of the pieces come together, from vision to cast performances to pacing to visuals – you have to give a director his due. This film is over two hours (135 minutes) and feels like a 90-minute production. It doesn’t waste time or linger in the end and while it is never rushed, it never really lets you go either. You’re engrossed start to finish, and no matter how tried you are in the darkness of that theater, it’s impossible to even consider nodding off.
I am someone who appreciates visuals no matter what kind of movie (or regardless of the moving actually being decent), and this movie was full of win in that category. It’s not something I’d expect in a horror film, but this movie is full of beautiful (and disgusting) imagery. It’s bright and jarring and everything you see is absolutely intentional. It’s the visuals (as well as the direction) that makes this film as creepy as it is. And while I have yet to (but I will) talk about how creepy this movie is, be sure that it is. Seriously. Creepy.
Saving the best for last would be the cast. I was blown away by the performances of these actors. Perhaps it’s because of their age. Perhaps it’s the serious topics that are covered and/or insinuated. Perhaps it’s their depth. Whatever it is, make no mistake that each and every actor (and actress Sophia Tillis) are ones to watch out for, and keep watching. They are believable, relatable, expressive and leave their mark on you – even if you’re not aware of it until you leave the theaters. Just outstanding.
I think one of the reasons I liked this film so much is that it felt less of a horror film and more of a coming-of-age film. Immediately after leaving the theaters, I was reminded of Stand By Me. (Which I did not know until looking it up – but Stand By Me is another Stephen King adaptation. Since it wasn’t a horror story, I had no idea.) I think the whole group of “loser” friends growing up and coming of age in the eighties while banding together to get through something (though in Stand By Me that something was not supernatural at all) – it just clicked immediately. And I love coming-of-age stories and films, they’re a favorite. It goes back to the cast for pulling it off so well.
I really enjoyed (stronger than liked, not quite loved) this movie. It’s a powerful coming-of-age story about a group of self-described losers who are endearing and impactful. It’s about friendship and standing together to overcome something bigger than any individual character. It has vivid visuals and bright colors. It’s pace never lets you go but doesn’t make you feel tired. And for the horror junkies out there, yes this film is very, very creepy. (And there may have been one time in the film where even hiding behind my hand wasn’t enough and I ended up jumping in my seat, squeezing my husband’s arm so hard I may have drew blood while yelling, “Jesus!” So, if you like the surprise scares in this kind of movie – there are those for you, too! 😉 )