Review: Stephen King’s IT really is the horror movie we’ve been waiting for


Pennywise has awoken from his 27-year slumber to wreak havoc on Derry on screen once more. But the question begs- Does IT live up to the hype it’s been given?

We saw the film last night, so this life-long horror fan is giving her two cents on one of the year’s most anticipated movies.

27 years after the TV miniseries, Andy Muschietti‘s adaptation of the Stephen King literary masterpiece that terrified millions who read the Bible of Pennywise breathes life once again into the cursed town of Derry.

While we can all unanimously agree that Tim Curry stole the show as the “eater of worlds” in 1990, the fact remains that it left much to be desired regarding important plot points and a fairly silly animatronic spider that just doesn’t stand the test of time. Hell, even for 1990 it was pretty bad — and Tim Curry himself isn’t much of a fan either of that ending.

2017’s IT remedies a lot of these long-standing problems by giving us more than just a tale about a monster in Derry and staying true to what made the book so horrifyingly unique. Rather than focusing on gimmicky scares which have become a rather common practice in wide-release horror films, Muschietti, Cary Fukanga, Chase Palmer, and Gary Dauberman play on psychological fear.

Yes, the jump scare does still exist in this film, however, it isn’t overused and played rather effectively in the right situations.  Even those quite familiar with both the book and miniseries may find themselves actually gripping onto their movie-going partner in moments of anxiety and intensity. IT has more of those crucial moments than I can remember in any recent film bringing some real terror to horror fans in the form of art and suspense — and a pretty grand selection of Pennywise’s many forms.

Image via Warner Bros.

The lucky seven who make up the Losers’ Club have an undeniable chemistry that we don’t often see in many films. It’s fairly easy to throw a couple of decent young actors together and say “Action!”, but with this group of talented youths, it seems to just come naturally — most particularly with young Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) and Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor). Mark my words, these kids are going places folks. Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard, who portrays Ritchie Tozier, stood out amongst his peers as the comic relief that was needed to balance our minds out from the visual terrors on film —  and we laughed at every single line that came out this kid’s mouth.

Most importantly here, however, the Losers’ Club is the heart of IT paying close attention to detail and examining each member’s personality in how they approach the struggles of adolescence. Whether it be Eddie’s anxious and careful analysis or Bill’s bravery fueled by the disappearance of his little brother,  the movie displays each character’s personas in the same way of Stephen King’s written word. With straightforward passion on a relatable stance with audiences, it would be hard for anyone to not be able to associate themselves with at least one member of the crew as each young actor represents shy and distant to bold and loud almost flawlessly.

Image via Warner Bros.

The million dollar question everyone is asking is if Bill Skarsgard‘s performance of Pennywise holds up — the veteran actor admittedly had some pretty big clown shoes to fill, and he not only slid his feet comfortably in but busted out the soles entirely in an enchantingly terrifying performance as Derry’s monster.

More from 1428 Elm

Just as with the story of two Jokers (Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger), Skarsgard brings a much darker, and closer to the actual telling in the novel, Pennywise to the screen that both haunts and mesmerizes you as if you were actually caught in IT’s deadlights. You can’t keep your eyes off of him when he pops up on screen as even his slightest movements dance on the screen in a breathtaking manner. Not to take anything away from Curry, as his performance was and is what MADE the miniseries work, but Skarsgard IS Pennywise. The man brings the horror, and intensity of scenes with just a glare from his eyes alone, which is a rare feat and shouldn’t go unmentioned.

A visually beautiful film filled with heart, humor, and horror, Andres Muschietti’s vision of IT  is the perfect start to 2017’s Halloween season as it truly is the film horror fans have been waiting for. Muschietti goes balls to the wall with King’s book and tell the story the way it deserved —  by not just telling it, but screaming it in our faces with just the right amount of volume. Of all the past Stephen King adaptions from book to screen, 2017’s IT comes dangerously close to being the most faithful to King and his nightmare train of thoughts penned down in his writings. That being said, I give it 9 out of 10 “Beep Beeps” on the horror movie scale.

Next: It wasn't supposed to be real: The Monster Project review

Stephen King’s IT opens in theaters nationwide today and stars Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgard, Nicholas Hamilton, and Jackson Robert Scott.