A group of small town children join forces to destroy an ancient evil responsible for a series of recent disappearances. In order to do this, they will have to face their worst fears.
IT is the 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King’s popular novel of the same name. The subject matter was previously adapted as a television mini series in 1990. Both the book and the 1990 adaptation are fan favorites, so this 2017 adaptation had a high order to fill.
For the sake of making this review a bit easier to read, I will be stylizing the title in all capital letters to differentiate the title IT from the general word it.
This 2017 film adaptation of IT is directed by Andrew Muschietti. It focuses solely on the part of the story that revolves around the main characters as children. The film features the talents of Jaeden Lieberher (The Book of Henry), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Geostorm), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Chosen Jacobs (Hawaii Five-0), Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, and Jack Dylan Grazer as these characters.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown (otherwise known as IT) is portrayed by Bill Skarsgård (Hemlock Grove, Atomic Blonde) in this adaptation. His performance is definitely different than what Tim Curry presented in the 1990 mini series, which is a good thing for him. Skarsgård does a fantastic job of making the character his own. He switches between a creepy, childlike clown to a menacing threat as soon as his twisted smile melts away. He is absolutely fantastic in this film. He definitely creeped me out.
Most of the feedback I’ve seen about IT has been very positive. I was told by a lot of people going into it that this was a really good movie. I heard that it was one of the best Stephen King adaptations. I was just hearing a lot of really great things.
I did enjoy IT. I thought it was a good, entertaining film. I did, however, still have problems with it. I’m glad this isn’t one of those films lately that’s had a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. I’m always baffled by that.
I’ll start off by saying that the subject matter of IT is very intense. It has a lot opportunity for some really great atmospheric scenes. The whole idea of IT is that there is this being that can transform into your biggest fear and stand the test of time. That can really mess with people if done correctly.
In this, there weren’t nearly as many of these atmospheric scares as I would have liked. It does have them. I won’t deny it that. There was one scene in particular in the library where I was silently screaming. It has a fair bit of atmosphere. It’s just that, unfortunately, the jump scares that it employs take center stage.
I won’t say that these jump scares cheapen the story because I have a whole other complaint that relates to that. I just feel that the story could have used more of the type of scare that lingers with you after you’ve left the theater.
Now, in terms of character development and such, I had some slight issues. There are definitely three main kids. These are Bill, Beverly, and Ben. These kids get a bit more character development. The other kids though don’t get this same development, so their role is dominated by one particular personality trait. One character is a snarky jerk. Another is a severe hypochondriac. The other two characters get even less to work with than that. It gets kind of old after a while. Their antics start to get annoying.
Now, it’s been a while since I’ve seen any part of the 1990 mini series, and I have never read the book, so I can’t say whether or not the characters are always like this, but I felt that IT would have benefitted from giving them a bit more to work with.
The kids swear. They say “fuck” a lot. It’s funny for a while, but that can’t be all you have going for them to make them likable. I wanted to see more from them so I could really feel invested in what happened to them. If I’m going to be coming into a sequel, where these same characters are returning as adults, the characters need to be more interesting. It’s not as fun to see adults say “fuck” a lot.
Those complaints were minor though compared to my biggest issue. I hated the music in this movie. I’ve seen people give praise for it, and I’m just so confused as to why. There were some glimmering moments, but overall, it just felt too over the top. It was too forced. There was too much of it. It made the dramatic scenes seem overdramatic. It made some of the scary stuff seem hyper cheesy.
I get it. IT is presenting itself as a clown. The main characters are children, so some of their worst fears might be kind of goofy. That doesn’t mean that the music has to make the scene seem goofy. It’s terrifying for the characters that are living it, so make me live it too.
As soon as the credits started rolling, the first question out of my mouth was “Who did the music?” because I needed to know who to blame for my biggest complaint of the entire movie.
Despite that sounding really harsh, I did enjoy IT. It’s not a bad movie by any means. I was just expecting more. I was expecting it to be better than it was. The kids are great. I enjoyed the effects and settings, and I absolutely loved Skarsgård here. It’s all a really good time. I’m looking forward to part 2.