Review: "It" (2017)
Title: It (2017)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Director: Andy Muschietti
Stars (Primary Actors): Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis
Bias: I have been a big Stephen King fan since I started sneaking books from my mom's bookshelf, but I find film adaptations of his work to be hit or miss. I wasn't sure what to expect when I heard there was a reboot of It in the works, but decided to see it after a ton of good buzz and an excellent trailer made it clear that this film was no Lawnmower Man (which is terrible, but I secretly love it).
In a Nutshell: Weird things happen in Derry, Maine. A group of bullied kids - the self-described "Losers Club" - band together when they realize that those weird things aren't mere coincidences, but are related to a dark history of the town that few people are aware of. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) follows and torments the kids, appearing to them as their deepest fears – a zombie, a leper, an abusive father. Fearing that they will be unable to stop the monster, the group disbands until one of their own - Bev (Sophia Lillis) - goes missing. Resolving to save Bev and kill the monster once and for all, the Losers Club descends into the sewers below Derry to face Pennywise head on.
The Critique: Is it weird to say that I think we're living in the golden age of child acting? Because we are. Looking at films like It and Logan, and television shows
like Stranger Things, it is hard to imagine a similar cohort of child actors at any point in the last several decades that could pull off those roles as successfully. And unlike the last truly great group of "child" actors, the Brat Pack, the kids of It are all actually kids. In addition to excellent performances from the Losers Club, Bill Skarsgard's take on Pennywise is destined to become as iconic as Tim Curry's, which is no small feat. He manages to be genuinely terrifying, but also quite funny at times, and sometimes both at the same time (see: the disturbing "dance" sequence). Although the film's plot is pretty generic – monster attacks kids, kids fight back – It reaches an unexpected level of depth when it turns to the traumas that the kids face not just at the hands of Pennywise, but from their parents, their bullies, and sometimes each other. Of course that means a slower burn in terms of storytelling, so this might not be the movie for you if you prefer horror that is non-stop jump scares and action.
Shout-Out(s): Although all of the child actors in the film are excellent, I have to give special mention to Finn Wolfhard, who plays Richie – a classic Stephen King smartass. I had a hard time imagining him in the role at first, because Mike Wheeler – his character in Stranger Things - is so sweet and naïve, but he really pulls off the pervy, 15 year old boy role with aplomb.
To Go, Rent, or to Netflix: Go see this in theaters while you have the chance!