IT is a modern horror film adaptation based on a popular Stephen King novel, following a group of bullied school kids in the late 1980s who band together to defeat an evil shapeshifting being, the film stars Bill Skarsgard, Jaden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer and Wyatt Olaff.
Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the original It, though I’m familiar with the general story and premise, it never really grabbed me even as a fairly avid horror film fan but the new film did grab my interest as I wanted to see the story in full and get a taste of the hype as it were. Stephen King is very hit and miss for me – and for quite a lot of people, with a lot of novels, TV shows and films, the majority of which not being too great but I had hope.
Anyway about the film, it capitalizes on the fairly recent 80s nostalgia trip that we seem to be having and that is mostly nailed in the characters clothing, lingo and the setting itself, the time period itself of the late 80s has a feel good association to it and the Goonies, E.T. vibe is unavoidable, watching a group of kids o on a summer adventure, uncovering something mysterious. That something in this case is Pennywise, a pretty creepy looking clown with supernatural powers, as you do, played really well by Bill Skarsgard, so much so that he’s pretty much unrecognizable and quite unsettling to watch for anyone under the age of say, 16 but generally Skarsgard has an interesting physicality and presence to the way he plays the role.
Skarsgard had a huge job to really pull the role off and he did, though the rest of the cast is actually quite good too, with some very enthusiastic and believable performances, mainly from Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and Beverly (Sophia Lillis), with even some of the side characters getting interesting plot arcs to play off of, the characters interaction and chemistry is also quaint, again believable for a bunch of 12-14 year old kids trying to have fun in summer in the 80s. An interesting point to make about the film for me though is that it’s not scary, I mean not really, I say this as a seasoned horror film fan so I don’t really get scared by films apart from the rare exception but to its credit It, is still pretty damn creepy and unsettling, with a fair bit of disturbing, gross out imagery and things that pennywise does (I hope not too many kids watched the film!). But to be fair for the films target audience, I’m sure it’s a terrifying experience and if so, it succeeded in what it tried to do.
The plot is also a highlight, seemingly quite long, clocking in at a bit over 2 hours but it definitely flies by, without too much slowing down between important plot points while including some interesting side stories that take things a bit deeper than expected out of a supernatural horror film.
Ultimately It, is a pretty good horror film, a rare thing to say in 2017, with effective imagery and scares (not for me but still), strong performances and an engaging plot that has some good pacing to boot, there are surprisingly deep moments and elements to the story as well for the adults and plenty of horror for the kids, an entertaining and somewhat surprisingly disturbing romp.
. Strong perfromances from most of the cast, even side character actors
. Engaging plot with great pacing
. For horror die hards, some of the lore around Pennywise may seem stupid/nonsensical