IT: Chapter One is a 2017 American supernatural horror film
IT Film Review (7/10) – The Forbes Film Review
There are two things in life that creep me out – spiders and clowns. I don’t know exactly when my fear of clowns began, but I suspect it has something to do with Tim Curry’s Pennywise, who I came across while watching the ‘It’ miniseries when I was a lot younger. When I heard they were doing a remake I was intrigued. After seeing the trailer for the first time I became excited about how scary it looked. Now that I’ve watched the movie I have to say that I liked a lot of things about it, but it failed miserably in doing what I wanted it to do – scare me. Unfortunately I didn’t jump once.
I’m sure most of you know the general story, but for those who don’t the film is set in the little town of Derry, Maine in the late 1980’s. The town has a troubled past and to this day a problem with people mysteriously going missing. The reason people are vanishing – Pennywise the dancing clown (Bill Skarsgard, ‘Hemlock Grove’). During the summer holidays we follow a group of kids who are members of the so-called ‘loser’s club’. Each of them has their own issues and fears, which Pennywise feeds off as he hunts them down.
These days I try not to go into films with strong expectations – good or bad. However I couldn’t help but have high expectations for this movie given that its original probably is at the root of one of my main fears. I love horror movies and I want to be terrified by them. I feel like that’s one of the great pleasures of cinema. It takes a lot for a movie to scare me nowadays having grown up watching so many horrors at a young age. Everything about this however was set up to succeed. The fact that I didn’t find the film scary was a massive disappointment, and had a big impact on my rating. I think if I’d been 12 or 13 this would have been a lot scarier and therefore more effective. That said, I still enjoyed the movie for what it was and think there are a lot of positives to speak of.
The film’s main strength is the children, all of whom were really impressive. The only one I knew was Jaeden Lieberher (The Book of Henry), but surprisingly all 7 of the main kids were great. Director Andy Muschietti has a history with bringing out great performances from children when you consider how good the girls were in his previous movie ‘Mama’. They each have their own unique personality, which we get to see early on. As the story develops we get a look at each of them individually and discover their fears and other issues including difficult home lives.
It’s when we are hanging out with these kids that I most enjoyed the movie. Their individual sections I thought were great. In some films (e.g. Suicide Squad) in can be tedious getting to know each character individually; but in this I welcomed it because they all had different and interesting back stories. There’s no doubting when they’re together it feels like a mash up of classic 80’s movies, most notably ‘Stand by Me’, but also ‘The Goonies’. There were also scenes where I was reminded of other horrors like ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Carrie’ and even ‘Ring’. The bully in this film basically is Kiefer Sutherland from ‘Stand by Me’, with his mullet from ‘The Lost Boys’. If this were simply a ‘Stand by Me’ remake, I’d have been very happy. The interactions between them were fun and you can’t help but like them.
I think some of the imagery looked really good. Individual stills of Pennywise (or some of the other things that scared the kids) were fantastic and would make for great posters. I also liked the score. At times I was reminded of the creepy rhyme from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ – “One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you; Three, Four, better lock your door…etc”.
Skarsgard as Pennywise I think did a decent job. It was always going to be difficult to step into the iconic Tim Curry’s clown shoes; but I think he did ok. The parts when he spoke certainly were certainly creepy. He got the voice just right I think. I just wish there were more scenes like at the beginning where we see his threatening predatory side, rather than the OTT supernatural side of him.
‘It’ has done so well at the box-office that there’s no doubt in my mind we’ll get to see ‘It: Chapter 2’, where we should see the kids all grown up. Although I prefer Muschietti’s previous film ‘Mama’ a lot more than this; there are enough things to admire about his version of Stephen King’s It to make me look forward to the sequel. It might not be all that scary, but it’s still a really good film.