IT Review

It is a unique horror movie teaching the modern auteur a thing or two about making a good movie, regardless of the genre. It includes the kind of the substance which any film, intended for a general audience, cannot really do without. Ironically, the primary downsides of It are more so to do with the fact that it fails, in some respects, to learn what exactly makes an exceptional horror movie, which of course is specific to the genre.

IT Poster

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The movie follows the story of what becomes known as ‘The Losers Club’. The Losers are a group of seven adolescents who find themselves brought together by their shared experiences of an enigmatic yet certainly incredibly malevolent figure which terrorizes the children of Derry, Maine. They come to bond with one another mainly due to their mutual feelings of being outsiders.

Each member of the Losers retains a unique foundation of personality and character, and their united experiences develop the individual characters in different and satisfying ways. While each Loser may be a separate glimpse of makeup and behaviour, the audience can quite easily emotionally invest in each respectively.

One character of particular note is Richie. In some respects, his appeal, even though it is well founded, is a major symptom of some of the things this horror movie gets wrong. Richie is played by Finn Wolfhard, who is most notable for his starring role as Mike Wheeler in the acclaimed Netflix series Stranger Things. Richie is a wise-cracking kid who seldom has moments of tact in his remarks relating to almost every scene he appears in. This works in his favour, and the film’s too. All comic relief is bestowed to essentially one character, which is all the viewer would ever want in watching a horror. Comic relief is never a necessity in horror, and is more often than not, a weak point in the genre, but it works here.

The trouble the film sometimes finds itself in is that at times it can go slightly overboard in offering respite to the audience. While Richie is never delivering a joke that has outstayed its welcome or is simply not funny, the fact is that with each light hearted moment, the atmosphere created is borrowed from the fear the movie could be instilling. Even if it’s not a particularly scary moment, there isn’t a general sense of claustrophobia trapping the audience with an ambience of dread.

There is no real need for this to be the case. It has potential for a more haunting theme. The scenes where there is no need for panic from the viewer are quickly spotted. At least when this is going on, the film is doing a remarkable job developing the plot and characters along with it, but arguably this does not mean fear must be sacrificed.

The opening scene does a fantastic job of setting the tone for the film and what is to be expected. The 2017 production of the famous opening drain scene really does win out in juxtaposition with the 1990 adaptation. While there is an unmistakable creepiness in conveying any form of a supposed man simply roaming the sewers, Tim Curry in the 1990 version could give one the impression of being a kind of overly sketchy used car salesman in his attempts to lure prey, whereas Bill Skarsgård’s portrayal has the effect of genuinely implying something even more sinister than merely a sick individual.

This ties in well with the rest of the movie; ‘It’ (the name of the actual being, and main antagonist of the plot) is not only viewed by the audience as a name synonymous with the embodiment of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Instead it is made clear to us that the form of a clown is really just one of many tactics used by something far more horrific.

It is a movie with certainly more than its fair share of moments worthy of positive appraisal. The film is populated with numerous moments worth remembering. The small amount it doesn’t do exactly right is made up for through sincerely admirable storytelling and rich characters.

It’s the kind of film that one might want to keep in mind when watching another horror for the first time.

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