Written by Dylan Deppe. Media by Jason Wang.
*This article contains spoilers for “It”.
“It” (or, “It: Chapter One”) is directed by Andy Muschietti, written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman, produced by Seth Grahame-Smith, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, David Katzenberg, and Barbara Muschietti, and stars Sophia Lillis (Beverly), Finn Wolfhard (Ritchie), Jaeden Lieberher (Billie), and Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise/It). The film was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures on September 8, 2017.
When children start disappearing in Derry, Maine, a group of young friends called The Losers start investigating similar circumstances that have plagued the town before. They eventually discover a mysterious being that was believed to be the cause of these disappearances. The being, Pennywise, then begins haunting the children with the intent of killing them and/or devouring their souls.
Bill Skarsgård is great as Pennywise. He’s very different from Tim Curry, who starred in the TV adaptation. Curry was funny, and almost suave, where as Skarsgård is just beautifully gross and creepy. The new Pennywise slobbers, stares into dead space, moves with unnerving staggering and slithering motions, and is cross-eyed. It is a great touch of detail that Pennywise changes his eye color to blue, though, when he is getting ready to eat Georgie. I never felt he was approachable, but I’m not a child, his preferred prey. So, it could be argued that Pennywise shouldn’t be charming like Tim Curry’s version. Both are different and great in their own ways.
The other performances are solid, too, which is saying something, considering that all but two of the significant actors are children. The movie captures the great spirit of children’s adventures like “The Goonies”, “Stranger Things”, or you know, the original book by Stephen King. Sometimes it seems like the filmmakers are trying too hard with the kids freaking out and cursing, but that’s how kids act; they overreact to almost everything, and they overcompensate their immaturity by swearing and making fun of each other’s mothers. Muschietti understands that the horror parts are scarier when we get to see the kids enjoying life, laughing, and playing games.
Speaking of horror, there’s a cool balance of old-school (mostly good) horror movies and new-school (mostly bad) horror movies. There’s jump-scares and grimy-wet halls, just like modern audiences seem to love in the new breed, but there’s great development and tension just like in the classics. Between this movie and the “Conjuring” universe, it looks like Warner Bros. is becoming the big name in town when it comes to horror movies.
I haven’t read the book, but from what I hear, there’s a fairly significant amount left out, and for good reason. When adapting a book to a television series, you can do everything. When adapting a book to a movie or two, you have to decide what you want to present, what you probably should present, and how to reconcile those differences. It’s cool to know about the Macroverse that Pennywise came from, but mumbo jumbo about Stephen King’s Multiverse and the space between each universe would probably be confusing and/or distracting to audiences. The mystery of not knowing what Pennywise is or where he came from, and the implied fantasy of that, enhance the narrative. Although, the turtle god is technically in the movie too. Also, the quasi-orgy scene in the book is disgusting and offensive at worst, and just really odd at best. So, let’s just forget about it.
Great performances, satisfying and intense scares, beautiful sets, solid humor, lots of heart, and great balance make “It” a horror movie that will probably age better than most of its contemporaries. I’ll give it an 8.4/10.