“It” is directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, and Jack Dylan Grazer. The film is based on the novel by Stephen King and is about a group of “loser” kids who come together when a demonic clown begins to cause children to go missing in their town.
This was a film that I have been dying to see, as the various trailers and sneak peeks all promised a fun, yet terrifying film, and Stephen King’s premise alone is one that brings excitement. Also, the fact that the box office has been completely barren as of late made it a necessity that this film succeeded, so I came in incredibly excited, and with very high hopes.
While the child cast is excellent, it is Bill Skarsgård’s outstanding turn as Pennywise that stole the show every time he was on screen. Skarsgård brings true terror in this villainous role, while also having a certain charm and charisma that made him breathtaking and mesmerizing to watch.
As I said, each and every one of the main child actors in this film are great, but there were a few who stood out from the bunch. Finn Wolfhard, known for playing Mike in “Stranger Things” is absolute comedic gold, and is able to always envelop comedy into every situation, and, while it is occasionally annoying, that is a part of his character, and Wolfhard plays it off wonderfully. Jaeden Liberher is also terrific in the lead role, as he is able to portray a speech impediment without it ever really feeling in the way. Lieberher brings a certain dramatic heftiness that would have otherwise been missing, as does Sophia Lillis as Beverly. Her character goes through some concepts that I truly did not expect, and I found her performance helped bring a lot of heart into the film. I loved Jeremy Ray Taylor as the new kid, and there was not one child actor who felt out of place in this movie.
Most horror movies today feel very one note, and when the terror isn’t at a peak, the movie around the scares feels lacking. This is where “It” stands out, as Andy Muschietti makes the movie very entertaining at all times. This is also helped by a great screenplay, as I fell in love with all of these characters through witty jokes and a lovable sense of heart, and it made the moments between the horror almost feel like highlights at points in the movie.
Don’t worry though, when “It” wants to be scary, it is mostly effective. Skarsgård’s turn as Pennywise is consistently creepy and always brings a direct heightened level of fear, as Muschietti amps up the tension and makes some creative choices in implementing scares. Scenes involving a flooded room and a projector were moments that had me truly terrified, and aside from those, I still found the tension to be there at numerous points, and the scares to often be rewarding.
Aesthetically, this is a very nice looking and sounding film, with the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung being surprisingly beautiful at times, as I love how he framed certain shots to gain effect. The score by Benjamin Wallfisch isn’t the most original horror score I’ve ever heard, but it was still brutally effective at setting the tone for what was to come.
At 135 minutes, it is impressive just how much this film doesn’t really drag from start to finish, as I rarely felt bored with whatever was on screen. Still, this is incredibly long for a horror film, and there were a few points in the middle that felt a tad repetitive, and I feel that the movie would have benefitted from a shorter runtime, even if it was just 10 or 15 minutes shorter.
There are occasional moments within the plot that feel a little lazy or a little underdeveloped, which is crazy to me considering just how long this film is. Still, the movie rushes through some cheap expositional scenes and has some points that don’t feel fully resolved, and while these were nothing major, they did add up in the first two acts.
While often original, there are quite a few cheap jump scares that, while pretty effective, felt a bit cheap in comparison to some of the outstanding moments of fear that surrounded them. Also, as much as I loved the child actors, their characters fell into some common horror movie clichés in the last half, and it became a slight annoyance on me by the end.
“It” is, for the most part, a very scary, very fun, and extremely well-acted horror film that lands on most of the elements that were promised in the trailers. Skarsgård and Lieberher are revelations here, and combining them with a smart script, lovely cinematography, and characters that I thoroughly enjoyed made “It” a fulfilling experience at the theater, even if it’s a bit too long.
What did you think of “It”? Comment below with your thoughts.