It, directed by Andy Muschietti, is the second adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. It follows the “Loser’s Club,” after having been terrorized by Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard), begin a search for the missing children in their hometown and for the mysterious and terrifying entity that seems to be linked to everything unsettling about the town and its history.
I have been looking forward to this film since the first trailer was released back in March. The trailer got me excited that I started reading the novel of which this film is based on. Although I happen to only be 450 pages in, just the simple act of reading the book kept raising my excitement level.
My only hesitation about the film was thinking about the original 1990 miniseries that starred Tim Curry. That series is pretty horrendous and I was severely hoping that this film would be the exact opposite. I’m happy that this film is everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s well-directed, well-acted, heartfelt, surprisingly funny, and, above all else, terrifying.
I want to start off singing the praises of the director, Andy Muschietti. He did something special with this film. There is already a lot of pressure on someone to take a beloved property and adapt it, especially when many people have a lot of nostalgia for a previous adaptation of the same property. Muschietti was able to create something that is faithful to its source, but also forges its own path.
Muschietti is able to create an atmosphere throughout the entire film that makes the audience feel a bit uneasy, even without any sort of actual scare being present. By being able to do this, he enhances the experience of the film because there is a feeling that something could go wrong at any time and the audience should always be ready for something to happen.
Muschietti’s use of the camera is also superb. He knows when to linger on a shot to get the most out of a scare or performance and when to cut to create more tension in a scene. Muschietti’s camera also never seems stagnant. The camera is almost always moving and is often canted at an off-putting angle, which would normally frustrate me, but in this case, I thought this type of camera style enhanced the film tremendously because it created a sense of uneasiness.
The performances throughout the film were also stellar. I was initially a bit worried about how the kids were going to be because child actors are notorious for being bad, but I’m happy that I was wrong.
Each kid was great, but the two that stuck out the most were Sophia Lillis as Beverly and Finn Wolfhard as Richie. Lillis probably had the most heavy-lifting to do on the emotional spectrum and she never missed a beat in that regard. She almost always takes the spotlight aside from when she shares the screen with Pennywise.
Wolfhard, though, was great as the comedic relief. His timing was fantastic and brought much-needed organic humor to many situations throughout the film, but when he needed to be dramatic, he was superb as well. Really though, even though all the kids were great, Bill Skarsgard stole the show.
An It film doesn’t work without at least a halfway decent Pennywise and, while many think that Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries is iconic, Skarsgard is everything that a demonic clown needed to be. Whenever Pennywise was on screen, he was enthralling and that is all thanks to Skarsgard’s performance. He was darkly funny, carried a creepy demeanor, and is generally terrifying. This performance is easily one of the best monster performances, if not villainous performances, in a long time.
As much as I love this film though, it’s not perfect. There are several points in the first act of the film that felt either rushed or lacked a satisfactory explanation for a character’s situation. I felt that this was due to some of the need to edit back and forth between the seven main characters, but regardless, I found this a bit jarring. Some characters are also thrown to the wayside and aren’t developed as much as others. Again, I understand why, but it’s still disappointing.
Overall, It transcends the horror genre and is simply a fantastic film. There are an abundance of great performances, fantastic directing, as well as scares that somehow combine to also be greater than the sum of their parts. However, this film isn’t for the faint of heart.