Film Review: IT (Andy Muschietti, 2017) ★★★★

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Courtesy of Warner Bros.
In the Summer of 1989 in the small town of Derry, Maine, children are disappearing under mysterious circumstances. Knowing the culprit to be an evil, shapeshifting clown, seven young misfits (known as the Losers’ Club) set out to defeat 'It'. 

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Following the tragic disappearance of his 5 year old brother, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) is finding it hard to let go. Convinced his little brother may still be alive, Bill is determined to find him and heads to the barrens with his best friends; the self-titled Losers' Club. Soon finding evidence suggesting this is not just an accident, the boys quickly begin seeing horrific visions of their deepest fears - the workings of a murderous, shapeshifting clown named Pennywise. Upon learning that the clown appears every 27 years to kill as many children as possible, and with the help of two new members to the group, the gang set out to destroy the clown once and for all. 

Courtesy of Warner Bros. 
Based on the iconic 1986 novel by Stephen King, Mama director, Andy Muschietti, breathes new life in to Pennywise the Dancing Clown in this wildly dark narrative. Whilst it could not be further from the 1990 TV adaptation starring Tim Curry, there are some clear nods to both the mini-series and the book. Naturally, the unforgettable opening scene with the paper boat is practically identical; there is a flickering likeness of Curry’s costume in one scene, and the characters are very much the same in terms of personality and development.

However, Muschietti’s version is not only far darker, but it focusses only on one period of time. Unlike the back-and-forth of linear time in the mini-series, it centres on the Summer of 1989 - thankfully ignoring the book’s disturbing sex scene and the characters' return decades later. Naturally, this makes way for a sequel (or a Chapter II) but also means that the film works perfectly well as a single entity. 

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Of course, horror fans will have one question at the forefront of their minds; is it scary? Now whilst this will almost certainly depend on your scare threshold, It does follow the stand horror genre codes and conventions. This means it can be very predictable at times, rendering the majority of its jump scares, staccato soundtrack and whip pans as somewhat tame. Unless you genuinely hate clowns and blood, in which case - this will most likely terrify you. In part, the film does struggle to escape the unrealistic horror convention of easily-avoidable peril in which we've seen all too many times. For example, entering an obviously haunted house only to be surprised by the horrors that lie inside.

Arguably, the generic genre conventions do not take away from the narrative as a whole. For horror fans in particular, It makes for comfortable viewing - with the comedic scenes being genuinely very funny. The somewhat graphic scenes are actually very well executed - most notably, an explosion of blood acting as the world's most unsubtle puberty metaphor. On occasion, however, there are scenes of dodgy CGI which can lessen the scare and heighten the cringe. 

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Most enjoyable about It is the dynamic of the Losers' Club. Reminiscent of The Goonies (1985) and Stand By Me (1986), the group playfully make fun of one another; making jokes about each-others mothers and quirks. Particularly a highlight of the film is Ritchie (Finn Wolfhard) who is almost an exact, more foul-mouthed rein-visioning of Mouth (Corey Fieldman in Goonies). As such, Ritchie is a constant tool of comic relief throughout the film; saying what we're all thinking - most of the time. With the arrival of Beverly (Sophia Lillis) in to the group, the dynamic shifts slightly as it becomes clear that each of the members are broken. Each have experienced a form of abuse or trauma in various form , though some are more severe than others. Ultimately, though it is never discussed, is what strengthens their bond. Equally, each of the young cast members deliver believably and hugely entertainment performances - thus adding to the film as a whole.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
In terms of character development, Beverly's is the most prominent and, arguably, moving. As a victim of bullying at school and an implied sexually abusive relationship with her own father, as an audience we feel the most empathy for her. Unlike the others' in the group, she is less afraid of Pennywise as she faces real evil in her own home. As such, she is portrayed as being the strongest member of the club. This is an empowering adjustment to her character who, in the book and mini-series, was seemingly played down in comparison to the male parts and overly sexualised.

Much like Tim Curry's tantalising performance in 1990, Bill Skarsgård proves to be one of the biggest successes of this adaptation. To make his performances all the more powerful, Pennywise is used sparingly so to keep the audiences eagerly waiting. Regardless of the CGI and special effects makeup, however, Skarsgård leaves a hell of an impression. His eyes are piercing yet dead; single strands of drool dangle from his chin and his execution of lines are simply chilling. This subtlety is massively successful, not purely because he is visually scary but because this makes him morbidly fascinating to watch. 

Courtesy of Warner Bros. 
Essentially a combination of Stranger ThingsGoonies and Stand By Me, this film can pretty much be viewed as a coming-of-age with a few horror scenes thrown in for good measure. Despite some questionable CGI and generic genre codes, It is a refreshing update to the 90's Pennywise we've known and loved. Having set itself up neatly for a follow up, you’ll most likely be left wanting a sequel. It ranks highly among the best Stephen King adaptations in the best possible way— even though that may seem like small praise. With a great cast, some beautifully shot scenes and a few genuinely hilarious moments, It gets a Sophie star rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

That's me done with another film review. Have you seen It yet? What did you think? Or maybe you're unsure as to whether you want to go. Either way, tell me your thoughts. I love reading your comments so please do leave me lots of lovely ones down below.

Until next time film fans,



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14 comments:

  1. OMG it launches next Saturday here in SA and I'm really looking forward to it!

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

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    1. Eeek! I hope you enjoy. You'll have to let me know what you make it if x

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  2. I saw this yesterday and enjoyed it much more than I expected to! I definitely think it could have been scarier but it was definitely creepy and very jumpy at times. The kids acting made the film for me, I found them all really funny and think they worked together so well. Loved the little jokes from them!

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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    1. Yeah I totally agree! I didn't find it scary at all - it's definitely more of a coming of age thing with some horror thrown in. I loved the kids too - so funny x

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  3. I thought it was pretty good aside from the problems with the CGI you mentioned. The humor in the film was good. I've never seen the 1990 adaptation despite being a big fan of Tim Curry. I haven't read the book either. So I guess I'll catch up with the 1990 version while I'm waiting for the sequel (where everyone is grown up).

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    1. Tbh I think it works very well on its own so it's a good thing you haven't seen the TV series or read the book :) Yes the CGI was very messy in parts

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  4. not a film I would enjoy personally. Saw the trailer on one of those youtube adverts you can skip and I was already scared...call me a scaredy cat :p
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

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    1. Haha it's really not scary at all. If you can watch Stranger Things then you can watch It x

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  5. A fantastic write up as always, Sophie. I was instantly drawn in by the trailer as I adore Stranger Things, Stand By Me & The Goonies and the nostalgia coming of age and of course 80s feel (80s rule!) Corey Feldman was one of my childhood heroes, so the fact that there is a similar character means I'm sure to relate. On the down side, I am literally the jumpiest person ever and though I enjoyed the original, it scared the hell out of me! I hate clowns and balloons 🎈🤡 I was eager to read your write up. Bill Skarsgard - relation to Alexander? If so, I'd probably fancy him if it wasn't for the clown makeup 😂
    Jaz xoxo
    http://www.thelifeofasocialbutterfly.co.uk

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    1. Aw thank you so much! Yes, definitely - it really is an embodiment of all those things in the best way. He is indeed, he's his brother :) Don't worry, I promise you it's not scary. Much more of a coming of age with some horror thrown in (a bit like Stranger Things). Haha there is definitely something about him plus hes super talented which is a bonus! xx

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  6. I remember watching a small bit of the TV adaptation, and I'm guessing it must have been when it was airing as I was only around 4 or 5 if that. But it freaked me out for life and I don't think I will be going to give this a watch either. Horror and jump scares are not for me, my imagination definitely takes it too far at a later time.

    Lauren :) x

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    1. Yeah I actually think the TV series is more sinister as it doesn't have the CGI but this has charm in other ways for sure. Luckily, it's so formulactic that its really obvious when he's going to show up so I personally didn't jump/find it scary at all but worth a watch if you feel you can handle it :) xx

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  7. I finally got round to seeing this last weekend and I absolutely loved it! I totally agree with your review and I think the chemistry between the children is the most enjoyable part of the story. Fantastic review as always, Sophie :)

    Ashley xx
    http://www.imamovienerd.wordpress.com

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    1. Aw I'm so glad you liked it! Yeah I thought it was genuinely very funny in parts but didn't find it scary at all tbh. Everyone's like "I can't watch horrors" and I'm like...it's a 15?? Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading :) xx

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