Overview: What is”It”?
Anyone familiar with the original 1990 “It” television mini-series probably has a fairly good idea of what to expect from this film. This modern rendition shares a lot of similarities with the original while adding its own flair to give it a more contemporary horror feel. A nice mix of emotion, thrills, and nostalgia, this is one film that horror fans of all kinds should be interested in. Keeping in mind those who enjoy the surprise factor, this review will be spoiler free.
The Story: Does it Hold Up?
Writer Stephen King has always been known for his dark and abstract method of storytelling and “It” is no exception. The film itself takes place in fictional Derry, Maine where we follow a group of young kids in their early teen years, who are simply trying to tackle the challenges someone that age might face when an unnatural force, simply known as “It”, taking the form of the iconic figure, “Pennywise the Dancing Clown,” decides to join the fray; and then proceeds to cause all kinds of mayhem for this band of misfits.
“It” seems to follow a fairly standard horror movie plot, where we follow a protagonist (or, in this case, a small group of protagonists) who somehow finds themselves faced with the responsibility of single-handedly fighting off some greater evil. It is a horror formula that we know and love, especially for those of us who grew up in the 80’s or 90’s. What really makes “It” stand out, however, is the level of depth it gives us into the everyday lives and struggles of each of the characters. Rather than feeling disposable like so many horror movie characters, we gain a sense of connection to the members of the group as we experience their struggles and, in some cases, are even reminded of our own childhoods through their experiences.
With so much of today’s horror scene being dominated by the supernatural, things like possessions or hauntings, taking a step back to the days of monster movies with Pennywise as the major threat was a refreshing change; and it was executed beautifully. It would be very easy, with an evil clown as an antagonist, to get carried away and go over the top with acting choices, but Pennywise provides just enough of a presence throughout the film to leave you with the creeps while still maintaining a residual feeling of mystery as to his actual character. All the way up through the end of the movie I found myself on edge, wondering what Pennywise was going to come up with next, which is just what you hope to get from a horror movie.
The Overall Experience
For a film that relies so heavily on children for the majority of its major roles, the quality of acting was remarkable and, I dare say, even better acted than many films with adult actors. Each and every character had a very distinct personality with their own quirks, which, for the most part, only served to further develop the characters and provided some appropriate and much needed comic relief. There was, however, a fair bit of vulgarity and adult humor from some of the characters and at times it started to feel excessive, though this may have been the only complaint I had.
Although Pennywise will be remembered by many thanks to Tim Curry’s legendary performance in the original series, Bill Skarsgård does an amazing job of filling the shoes with his interpretation of the horrifying clown. His overly-excentric performance and his downright eerie demeanor make for a very unsettling atmosphere and with the dark and twisted cinematography even the most normal of scenes can take a dark turn, and they should be expected to. “It” pleasantly surprised me with its reliance on psychological thrills more than mere jump scares, and I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout the majority of the film.
All in all, I found “It” to be a beautifully crafted piece of cinematography. It is certainly a diamond in the rough when compared to the somewhat repetitive nature of contemporary horror films, and it most definitely does the original justice. The acting was brilliant and there was a near perfect blend of emotion and thrills to keep you engaged through its entirety. Whether you are a horror fan or otherwise, “It” is a movie well worth watching. It is one I will most definitely be seeing again.