IT (2017) Review
IT (2017) is a horror movie based on the Stephen Kings 1986 novel IT, notably IT was also adapted into a miniseries in the 90s starring Tim Curry. While the novel and miniseries alternate between the main characters childhood past and present adulthood, IT 2017 focuses solely on the main characters as kids.
I'm not really a horror movie person, the last horror movie I watched was Cabin in the Woods which is not a traditional horror movie and I have never watched a horror movie in a cinema. In the years since the miniseries, Tim Curry's IT has become a meme and as 90s nostalgia has become popular I have that become familiar with IT. So knowing the gist of what IT is I was quite eager to see the movie I figured I know enough, the marketing material is portraying this movie as closer to a thriller/drama than a traditional horror movie, and with the main cast being kids there is only so far it can go right? Despite my aversion to horror movies I found IT very enjoyable and a ton of fun, there are certainly scary moments, but there are also some funny moments and the movie has a lot of heart.
IT Fires on all cylinders the cast is amazing, the story is good, effects are good and the movie has a good look to it, above all for me was IT gets really well done is the atmosphere and themes. I found it quite similar to Stand By Me, kids going on a journey, that summer setting and the character growth. IT's main conceit is that Pennywise the clown (IT) goes after the kids in the form of their greatest fears. Each kid gets their own scene with the clown and we see what they are afraid of in some pretty harrowing scenes. What IT does really well though is showing the characters in everyday life, beyond how their fears play out we get to see the kids being kids. Not everything is perfect, the cast is quite large and there is not enough time to flesh everyone out but what the movie does show is good and even if its brief there is meaning. The movie also groups the kids up fairly often so we get to know the kids through the group dynamics as they play off one another. In these scenes the writing is on point, these kids talk like kids they play off each other naturally, we get some macro character development as they work out how to deal with IT but also interact with each other in general. IT is definitely a story about how a group of kids deal with a monster clown but it's also the story of how they deal with their fears, how dealing with those fears changes them and how that plays out at the cusp of adolescence.
Some other points, we see Pennywise a lot in the movie and he is all over the marketing material, while his design is unsettling I never found him on his own that scary. I found some excitement at seeing how Pennywise would move and manipulate himself and his surroundings while doing after the kids. There is some great imagery and atmosphere but I think what elevates Pennywise is how the movie plays around with futility, Pennywise is almost a terminator like nemesis to the kids seemly indestructible even as they deal with their fears the odds always feel against them. On the subject of antagonists while Pennywise is the big bad Pennywise is not the only evil in the movie there are a few scenes in the characters everyday life that are quite unsettling, as the movie lets the kids be kids it's not afraid to portray the ugliness of the world.
I came into IT thinking it would be decent but I was surprised how much I enjoyed the movie, it is certainly scary but the movie also has a lot of heart. It’s a long movie and each kid gets their own scary confrontation with IT, but we also see the kids in everyday life, growing up in a small town being kids. I think the fact that we get to know and get invested is what makes IT a really good movie, the kids being very likable also helps quite a bit.
IT is a really good movie, it's scary but it also has a lot of heart and I think having that heart those moments even more terrifying.
Disclosure: The company is work for has Roadshow Films as a client who are the distributors for IT (2017). I work on this account and worked on the campaign for this movie, I also saw this courtesy of Roadshow at a Roadshow screening before general release.