This film has picked up a momentum that few could have ever expected. The first trailer for It was one of the most watched of all time, breaking records the day it was released. The hype train has built and built until the day finally came, on Friday, when I got to see it. Sorry It…This review will probably be frustrating. But if you’ll come with me, you’ll float too.
You’ll float too…
You’ll float too…
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, It follows (not It Follows) a small group of kids called The Losers Club, in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. The group begin seeing visions of all their worst fears, often accompanied by a clown. They soon come to realise the true horror lurking in their town and, together, must learn to face their fears.
The first thing to discuss is the kids. Holy moly are they good. The most recognisable among them is Finn Wolfhard from Netflix’s Stranger Things but the main character, Bill, played by Jaeden Lieberher, is fantastic also along with Sophia Lillis as Beverley. Perhaps they are largely unknowns now, but this film will thrust them into prominence because their performances are incredible. Despite the children having quite distinct personalities, you believe that they are all a group of friends and you believe them as the Losers Club. Not only are they great at the horror elements of the movie, but they bring humour and real drama to almost every scene they are in. Ben’s character, played by Jeremy Ray Taylor, has to deliver some lengthy dialogue to explain some of the backstory but his performance brings it to life nonetheless. All the children also have to deal with quite difficult subjects as young actors, particularly Beverley, but they handle it deftly and beautifully as if they are much older and more experienced than their years.
Perhaps even more important than the kids in this film is the performance of Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown- the eponymous “It”. I have never seen the miniseries from the nineties with Tim Curry in the role but, having seen clips and from hearing reactions of people who have, his role is undoubtedly iconic and a difficult one to match. Despite this, Skarsgård is electric in the part: one third creepy and unsettling, another kind of sweet but another completely horrific. His voice alone is all of these combined, most notable in the brilliant opening scene when his true nature is revealed. The CGI utilised for his character is mostly brilliant and helps convey the nature of Pennywise’s power to the audience.
This film is certainly not all about the horror. In fact, I might even hesitate to call it a horror film just because it works so well and labelling it “horror” is almost misplaced. Certainly there are scares, and some pretty disturbing ones at that, but they really drive the development of the children onwards. The director, Andy Muschietti, has created something quite special here with a film that works well in almost every way.
A couple of quick negatives to point out possibly stem from a bias with the children towards just a few of the characters. While I understand the decision, a few get left with little to do and there a few quite awkward little moments where they feel the need to explain why certain characters aren’t part of this bit of the film Everyone does get something to do, develops and gets their reward but some of the arcs feel a little disjointed because the characters disappear. The last negative is something which I suspect isn’t a negative. I know that makes little sense but hear me out. Trying to avoid getting too spoiler heavy, towards the end, after several similar scary parts, Pennywise began to seem less frightening to me. However, the children face many, often more real scares which perhaps Pennywise was merely a metaphor for. To me, this speaks to the development of the characters and of the true themes of coming to face your fears and learning how to become an adult. So, in my opinion, the loss of fear of Pennywise seemed intentional for the plot and so actually worked wonderfully.
All in all, this is a marvellous piece of cinema and a horror film that is able to transcend its genre in many ways and do what many of its kind fail to do- be a really good movie. It… It has laughs, scares and tender moments and it never does anything if it isn’t to develop the characters and drive the plot. This is my favourite horror of the year so far and one I definitely recommend seeing, even if you usually don’t like getting scared! Get watching!