Horror movies have a bad habit of investing all of their efforts into jump scares, gross imagery, etc. to get reactions from it's audience. Only every so often does a movie come out that is truly disturbing, a movie that makes its audience audibly scream in every other scene. “IT” is a film that will have you squirming in your seat and peeking in between your fingers as you try to hide what's coming next. While “IT” is a reboot of a very popular TV movie, it embraces the horror genre while moving it forward in a way we have not seen it a very long time.
Directed by Andy Muschietti, the film is an adaptation of Stephen King’s famous novel of the same name and is the second time audiences have seen the book turned into a movie. The first, starring Tim Curry as the malevolent entity Pennywise the clown, has evolved into a bit of a cult classic among horror movie fanatics. This latest iteration has a lot to live up to, and with the help of a fantastic cast, gorgeous cinematography, well-rounded script and effective special effects, the film delivers not only a stellar horror experience, but a great movie overall.
Set in Derry, Maine, the 175 minute project follows seven preteens who’ve dubbed themselves the “Losers Club” as they investigate numerous disappearances of children throughout the town. The kids soon learn of Pennywise the clown, a demonic entity that has plagued the town for years and shows its face every 27 years. When it awakens from its slumber, it feasts on the children of the town. Pennywise will not reveal itself to those it does not want to be seen by, forcing the children to take matters into their own hands and stop Pennywise for good. This is easier said than done as Pennywise has the ability to manipulate its surroundings and its appearance to whatever its victims fear the most. As the kids get closer and closer to defeating Pennywise, they must deal with their own personal fears at home and work together to save the town.
The special effects are masterfully utilized to enhance practical effects instead of replace them, which is all too common in many of today’s movies, not just the horror genre. Subtle effects applied to Pennywise’s movements, portrayed by Bill Skarsgård, and voice create an eerie figure to be feared by all and a great horror villain. Skarsgård brings an incredible performance to the movie and is perhaps ultimately responsible for the effectiveness of the film.
Horror alone is not enough to make a movie great, a thought visibly apparent to Muschietti and the writing team. The script is phenomenal, giving each of the seven kids a distinct personality and motivation. The chemistry of the cast members is near perfect, shifting viewers go from cringing in their seats in fear to laughing with the kids in minutes. Finn Wolfhard, who also stars in “Stranger Things” on Netflix, stood out as the fast talking Richie. As a foul mouthed straight man, he plays off of the insanity of the situation very well.
The movie seems to be left open for a sequel, and as long as we get some more time with the Losers Club, sign me up. Playing with fantastical fear as well as unsettling and disturbing situations in their home lives, watching the kids battle Pennywise throughout the film is mesmerizing. Some true horror junkies may find themselves yearning for a little bit more, but for the average movie goer the film should be gory enough. Where this film lacks in screams it makes up for in laughs, and should please any movie goer who is relieved that the summer movies are gone till next year.