Friday, 15 September 2017

IT (2017): Review

 IT is a 2017 American Horror film. Directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama) and starring Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special) and Sophia Lillis (37). The film is an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name and a remake of the 1990 TV mini series.

IT opens with the infamous scene involving Bill's (Lieberher) younger brother Georgie, a paper boat and the iconic Pennywise the clown (Skarsgard). Everything seems pretty much the same as the original TV movie, that is, until Georgie is left crawling through the rain bleeding to death after having his arm removed. It quickly becomes clear that this is going to be a much more intense experience than the original as Bill, Richie (Wolfhard), Beverley (Lillis), Ben, Stan, Mike and Eddie assemble to form "The Losers Club. As more and more kids go missing in the town of Derry, the losers club discover a malevolent entity known as "IT" is murdering local youngsters by assuming the form of their worst fears, most commonly Pennywise. The kids have to band together to face their fears and confront Pennywise on his own turf, vowing to come back to Derry should IT ever resurface.

Those who are able to take their rose tinted glasses off for a second will admit that IT (1990) is not a very good movie. IT is, in fact, a poor made for TV movie with terrible acting and the cheesiest music centred around a singularly iconic performance from Tim Curry. So to say that IT (2017) is an improvement on this is not really doing the film justice and this is a remake i've been in favour of for a long time. The child actors in this version are superb and you believe their sincerity and friendship just as much as you believe their fear. And IT is a terrifying movie, not just through jump scares, but through creative sequences that play with the kind of paranoid fantasies and phobias that are never stronger than when you're a child.

Bill Skarsgard had the highly unenviable task of tackling Tim Curry's Pennywise and, for the most part, does a great job of putting his own spin on the creature and the filmmakers wisely pull back on the clown character, choosing to balance him with other manifestations of IT. The only time I felt Skarsgard's Pennywise fell significantly short of Curry's Pennywise was when he had extended lines of dialogue and didn't feel they carried the same dread as when delivered in Curry's traumatising New Jersey drawl. It must also be said that, for a big budget film, the CGI and visual effects are simply not up to scratch and this took me out of the movie a few times but, on the whole, the ambition and creativity of the effects make up for this.

It is rare that a mainstream horror film dazzles in this way, and even rarer that a remake satisfies almost the entire horror community. But it is well deserved, as are the record breaking figures that are rolling in from box offices across the world. IT is a fantastic re interpretation of a classic Stephen King novel and can proudly take it's place among such cornerstones as The Shining, Carrie, Stand by me and The Mist. 2017 continues to be a year that horror fans can be proud of.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of IT? How do you think it compares to the original?


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