Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Movie Review: "It" (2017)

Director: Andy Muschietti
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

The kids of Derry, Maine have been disappearing, snatched up by what appears to be a crazy clown. Now, the older brother of one of the missing children gathers his friends to investigate his little brother's disappearance. 

Clowns are super creepy, but very few clowns are as creepy as Pennywise. Tim Curry set an extremely high bar for capturing this character 27 years ago, and now it's Bill Skarsgård's turn to take his own shot at the part. We must say, he sure does "It" proud.

Remakes get made all the freakin' time in Hollywood. With most projects, our knee-jerk reaction is to question their necessity. When it comes to "It," we thought a remake might actually be a good opportunity to give the story the proper treatment it deserves. As we mentioned, Tim Curry was iconic as Pennywise in 1990, but the rest of the made-for-TV miniseries had a lot of room for improvement. Director Andy Muschietti directs this remake and does a fantastic job creating something that manages to feel fresh despite being a story that has been told before. The writers, who include Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman, create a horror story that's not only scary but has well developed, relatable characters and an engaging story. Muschietti also found the perfect cast to help bring this remake to life, including the aforementioned Bill Skarsgård, as well as Jaeden Liebereher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff, who make up 'The Losers Club' in the small town of Derry, Maine. All of the children in this rag-tag group of misfits have tremendous chemistry with one another. They feel, act, and talk like real kids would have been ain the 80's, complete with f-bombs, sexual innuendo, vim, and vigor. We believe these people could really be friends and love how their bond is strengthened as the movie progresses.

This incarnation of the material is frightening for several reasons. Fear and facing those fears play a central theme in this film. Pennywise and all the terror he inflicts is scary enough on its own, but one could argue he isn't even the most terrifying thing about "It." Many of the human characters are just as scary as this awful, vicious, manipulative killer clown, if not more so. One of those individuals is a local bully named Henry Bowers, played by Nicholas Hamilton, who regularly terrifies, berates, and physically harms the kids younger than him. He is a sadistic sociopath and gets pleasure from hurting kids weaker than him, though this seems to be an action inherited from his father. Another unsettling character is Mr. Marsh, played by Stephen Bogaert, the father of one of the Losers named Beverly, played by Sophia Lillis. It is heavily implied he has committed some unthinkable crimes against his daughter, and we were left squirming in our seats from his vile demeanor. There are several other people and instances we can think of but we don't want to go too in depth and spoil things.

The theme of facing fears comes back around quite often during this movie's run time. And speaking of, though "It" is over two hours long, it doesn't feel like it at all. The pacing is excellent and we never once felt bored while watching it. Even though this is a horror film at heart with its disturbing visuals, jump scares, blood and gore, it also has a fabulous adventure plot and excellent coming of age elements as well. These components make it feel like "Stand By Me," "Goonies," or "Super 8," but with a terrorizing child-eating clown. We enjoyed this differentiation because it makes it for more than just a solid scary movie. The engaging story and interesting characters coupled with the horror, the psychological terror, and the friendship between those in the Losers Club solidifies "It" as one of the recent horror movie greats. Of course, it's not without its flaws, but the good definitely outweighs the bad.
My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~86%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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