Movie Review: IT (2017)

IT Cover

While my love for horror films may have wavered over the last few years... Hence my recent Hiatus... I have re-found that love and I suppose it all comes down to finding my happy in this world.. Something which gives me the strength and want to do anything and everything I've always wanted to. Well enough of the soppy shit. 

Last year a film was released which garnered the kind of public interest usually reserved for huge scale, large budgeted superhero movies... IT. Who doesn't enjoy a good scare at the cinema every now and then.

So off I went with my happy to the movie theatre to watch a scary film. The room was very near full. To say that after the film had already been out a week, in our small corner of the world is a huge coup for the local cinema and the coffers it laps up!

Anyway, on to the film!

We follow Bill, Richie, Beverly, Ben, Mike, Eddie & Stan, a group of young kids dubbed the losers club. The group must band together to battle the woes of growing up in a cruel and harsh world. The only problem is, they're growing up in Derry, Maine. A town plagued by disappearances.

Loser Club

After the disappearance of Bill's brother Georgie, the small town is once again thrown into disarray. Bill struggles to come to terms with the disappearance of his little brother and strives for answers. As the kids face adversity from all angles, they must come together to battle their worst fears. Individually and as a group. The fear I speak of takes many forms but it’s preferred embodiment is that of Pennywise, the dancing clown.

What can we say about this film that hasn’t already been said somewhere?

IT is a modern day take/adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel of the same name. I have to admit, being a fan of the novel and having somewhat enjoying the original 1990 made for TV “mini-series”, I was slightly apprehensive before watching this modern version. Not least because the original Pennywise was masterfully portrayed by one of the greatest character actors in history, Tim Curry!

Pennywise Tim Curry
Tim Curry’s on screen display was enough to muster the inner most primal fears in any person. It did help that when I first saw the original I was about 9 years old and having already read the book, I had a picture in my head. As is the case with most books but the reality of the on-screen portrayal far exceeded my imagination! I was fully in awe of his performance. As for the rest of the original film, it had its moments but I wont be the first person to say it trailed off towards the end.

So, my initial apprehension was purely based on how they could possibly manage the great expectation of following Mr Curry as the happy/crazy clown...

If I was to say that Bill SkarsgÃ¥rd’s portrayal of said clown was the brightest beacon in this film, would you argue? I would love to hear if you disagree...
Happy Wave Pennywise
This film was funny, I mean laugh out loud funny as the quick whit of some of the child characters, notably Eddie, carry the film rather well. It has a good level of atmospheric build up and some good graphic scenes along with the occasional jump scare.

The modern take on the story was a good element. Moving it from a 1950’s setting to the late 80’s. In some way this small change makes it feel much more relevant and allows the viewer to associate a lot more with the surroundings and cultural references. Who doesn’t love the 80’s?

One of my favourite aspects of this film was the initial shock factor. I know, I know... Spoilers but lets face it, most of the world has seen this movie and if you haven't. Stop reading now...

You'll Float Too
Within the first 10 minutes of this film, we are treated/exposed to some mindless child cruelty as something very unusual for mainstream films takes place in front of our very eyes. Poor young Georgie is innocently talking to a stranger in a clown costume, in the sewer... This takes stranger danger to whole new level! He is viciously assaulted and loses his arm... While frantically trying to claw his way from the danger and being trailed now by a huge pool of blood, he is whipped back towards the storm drain and disappears! 

I understand that in the modern day, films must push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable and one thing that is very rarely seen on the silver screen, is children in any kind of real danger. This film thrusts that upon us from the word go. Something which as well as being quite poignant is very graphic but in its own little way, it is not detrimental to the style of the film and in no way is it in poor taste... at least I didn't think so.

One of the only negative things I can realistically say is IT was the film is about 30 minutes too long. At least in a cinema setting. The run time of 135 minutes is a big ask for any horror film. Maybe in the comfort of a home cinema, this would be more bearable. I appreciate that there is a lot of story to get through and the producers must have wanted to see how it would fare before green lighting the obvious follow up but... and that is a pretty big but! This film would have benefited massively from being just that little bit more prompt. 

IT Balloon

To totally contradict my statement above, an extended directors cut would be brilliant as some characters would definitely have benefited from more screen time. *ahem Mike *ahem, mentioning no names…But there we go!

If you haven’t seen this film yet, I would wholly recommend watching it. It is easily one of the best horror films of recent years and as I touched on earlier, the portrayal of Pennywise is movie magic in its most rawest form. Worth watching just for that.

Quietly optimistic about Chapter 2 however it will be difficult. As anyone who knows the book or has seen the original, the second half focuses on the Losers club after they have all grown up! Lets just hope that the end product does chapter one justice and improves on the 1990’s effort.

8/10 (An extra point for Pennywise!)

It (2017) on IMDb

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