It Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to see all of the latest box office smashes including the movie I’m lucky enough to talk about today, It! To see all showtimes and to purchase tickets, you can click right HERE!

Though I wouldn’t call myself a horror junkie or a horror aficionado, I was so excited to check this movie out. I was a little bit let down by The Dark Tower, so I was really hoping that It picked up the slack. I also didn’t read the novels for The Dark Tower. In this case, I absolutely adore the novel for It, so I had hopes and expectations. I saw the mini-series before I read the novel, and I thought that the mini-series was alright, but after reading the novel, this story deserves something much more. From a storytelling standpoint, there’s so much to the book, so adapting it in a way that would feel complete in-and-of-itself would be tough, but I honestly believed that if it took the right pieces, we could get one of the best coming-of-age movies and one of the best horror movies of all time. Let’s talk about the movie!

It is directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, and Bill Skarsgård. When children start dying in Derry, Maine, a group of seven kids must come together to face the evil clown-shaped being terrorizing their town.

All my cards on the table, I loved this movie. Am I a little bit biased because the novel’s narrative contends for my favorite story? Maybe I am, but I still absolutely loved this movie. If you’re a fan of the book, I really do think that you’ll be a fan of the movie, and this is about the best It film I could have asked for. To start off, I loved it for the same reason I have and will continue to love the novel. It transcends the horror genre with its characters and its themes. On the surface, it’s a movie about a hungry and homicidal clown, but it’s really a deeply affecting story about childhood, friendship, imagination, power, belief, togetherness, ways to deal with loss, and so much more. I felt connected to these characters from the minute they hit the screen, and I truly believe that they’ll become classic coming-of-age protagonists. All of the kids have amazing chemistry, and I felt like I had amazing chemistry with them. I felt like I was part of the Losers, and when a movie can involve me and make me feel like part of the gang, I have to really respect the way it addresses my own truth. There are also extremely emotional moments. I won’t get into too many spoilers even if you’ve read the book or seen the mini-series, but the way these kids care for each other and the way they understand each other on a personal level that others can’t relate to makes this movie a stand-out, not only as a Stephen King adaptation, a horror film, or a coming-of-age film, but a film in general.

It’s also hilarious. This makes sense because childhood isn’t a purely dark thing. There are good times, and your friends can bring those good times to life. As far as pacing and direction go, It mixed comedy and horror so well and is beautifully balanced. The delivery from each of the kids is amazing, and they all give excellent performances. The comedy works because of how well the kids gel, and between Richie Tozier’s snappy comebacks and Beverly teasing Ben about the New Kids on the Block, I spent way more time in the theater laughing than I had expected to. For a movie that sits at two hours and fifteen minutes, it flew by without a single moment wasted. Andy Muschietti, who I expected great things from, completely delivered from a visual standpoint. Derry feels like its own character, and most of that is due to how Muschietti captures it. It looks so beautiful, and through Derry’s haunted roots, it’s kind of a magical place. On top of being a statistically dangerous place, it’s a city where togetherness prevails, and that’s easily felt throughout the film. This movie is shot so well to bring the film to life and pull every last ounce out of its odd scares. I say odd scares because this isn’t a conventional horror movie with standard jump-scares and set-up. It uses a lot of psychological terror to get to us and disturb us, and I loved that.

To all of the book fans, this movie doesn’t encompass everything Stephen King went over in the novel, nor should it for obvious reasons, some far more obvious than others. I will say that there isn’t much to worry about when considering the adaptation. Everything that changed was changed for a great reason, and I never jumped off because of changes. I loved everything that was brought over from the source material, and it has plenty to offer for readers of the book. There are nods that sit there solely for fans, and it pays off so well. I have to give credit to Bill Skarsgård because I thought he was terrifying. Pennywise is now one of my favorite horror villains, and Skarsgård found the right balance between terror and, for the lack of better terms, fruitiness. Even though Pennywise is horrifying, there are so many other contributing factors to the shock. Next, a couple of the characters antagonizing the Losers always left me feeling like these characters I loved were in danger. The adults and Henry Bowers both kept their foots on the throats of our main characters, and they weren’t wasteful villains. They’re scary because we see them from a younger kid’s point of view, and they are so different from the kids. I think a lot of people will be against the way adults are portrayed, but to me, that only feeds into the way the kids are portrayed. It’s so slanted toward their visions of truth, and it helped me connect to them.

As far as flaws go, it’s tough to pick this movie apart saying that I wish it would have drawn certain pieces of the book into the film, but unfortunately I think I’m going to do just that. It’s not a huge issue for me because I can fill most of the gaps in my imaginative story-world with the information from the book, but I do wish that we saw a little bit more unfold on-screen. In particular, I wanted to see a little bit more between the kids and their parents. Bill has one scene with his father, but due to my skewed vision, I didn’t buy that scene because I think there is a way to better accomplish what a tragic event has done to the Denbrough family. I also would have liked to have seen more from Beverly and her father. It’s such a fascinating relationship that really sets the tone for Bev’s life, so I could have used a few more minutes there. I guess my main complaint is that I enjoyed these characters so much that I couldn’t get enough of them, which is never a bad problem to have.

Overall, I truly believe that this is the best adaptation of It that we could have asked for, and it was obviously made by someone who loves and wants to do justice to the source material. The characters are incredible, and this is one of those rare films that can transcend genre and just become a great film in general. The way it balances terror with comedy, heart, coming-of-age themes, and more is so impressive, and it made me latch onto all of these characters and invest myself in them from the very beginning. It’s hilarious, and though I want to name names of the kids who stood out to me, I honestly can’t. They all made this movie what it was, and it’s the quintessential coming-of-age tale that brings so many great aspects into the same film. Andy Muschietti’s vision is so clear, and the way he has complete control over this story, its setting, and its tone blew me away, and if Mama didn’t make me believe that he’s a brilliant visual director, It surely did. If you are a fan of the book, the additions, subtractions, and direct pulls from the story all fit into the runtime perfectly, and there isn’t much that I found tragically left out or distractingly added in. I did miss a few points of depth, and there is a scene with Bill’s father that doesn’t quite work in my mind, but again, my biggest complaint is that I didn’t get enough from some of these characters, and I still feel like that’s greedy. My main issue was that I never wanted to leave these characters, and walking out feeling that way is always a positive. I’m going to give It a 9/10.

Will you be checking out It? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse.

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]