Remakes are generally a scary thing. Although everyone wants to see their favorite films come to life once again with more popping effects and a more modern feel to them, most remakes don’t come close to the original source. Most remakes aren’t even good productions. They strive to exploit the original material as much as possible, which simultaneously adding something new to the story. The result is often a rather chaotic film that may suit those who love the source material, but that is objectively not that good of a film.
Thus, it is normal to feel scared going into ‘IT’. After all, this is a remake of the 1990 classic and, as history shows, most remakes are awful.
Gladly, ‘IT’ is fantastic. The movie serves its purpose, tells an insightful and exciting story, and manages to keep the viewer’s interest. With the recent decent of the Hollywood horror genre, ‘IT’ is a nice light in the dark tunnel.
The plot of this particular production resolves around a group of children who join together when an evil spirit, taking the appearance of a clown, starts to hunt down other kids from their city. It’s a rather simple story with not much complexity to the original thesis. However, Stephen King, the author of the book ‘IT’, and the writers of the 2017 film, Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman, have managed to take this simple idea and create a fantastic story our of it. Through creating new and new layers to the plot, the stakes become higher and the viewer gets more invested into whatever they are watching.
This film really consists of two general arcs that brilliantly intertwine with each other. First, there is the storyline of kids vs. Pennywise. Each moment that contains an actual physical or psychological conflict between the children and the monster is tense and profoundly interesting. The first scene in which the children interact with Pennywise, for example, is absolutely brilliant: the actors’ reactions are extremely genuine, the scene is very scary due to great direction, and it moves the plot forward without pushing it too far or taking anything from the story.
The story around the actual creature IT is build-up slowly, like a well-roasted beef burger, so that the viewer can get invested into the conflict and care about who wins. Nothing is rushed, all interactions with Pennywise are rare and thus – eventful.
The slow development does three things. One, it creates a deep dramatic effect to the story that makes the viewer feel scared. Two, it builds up tension and makes the plot even more interesting as every scene is different from the last. And three, it provides space for a second general story arc.
Or story arcs, one must say. What’s most surprising and hitting about ‘IT’ is the fact that mostly all kids have their own arcs that beautifully explain their struggles, their beliefs, their motivations, and, really, who they are as a person. Once again, this is not rushed: mostly all children get their fair share of development, just as much to get the viewer to care and to understand them, but not so much that it gets boring.
This was done geniously. Characters are not developed through exposition and dialogue, but rather through different bits and pieces of their own personal stories that the viewer must connect to understand who they are. Richie, for example, technically doesn’t have his own arc, but one can perfectly understand who he is and what he stands for just through the way the character is written. Eddie also has no exposition arc, but the viewer can once again get to know the character because of his actions and his relationship with his mother. Other characters, like Bill and Beverly, have even deeper storylines, but yet again – no exposition. Nothing is directly said about them, but the viewer still gets to know the characters just through the general way the story is written.
It feels strange, however, that Stanley is the only one underdeveloped. There is some fines to the character, but he feels astray to everyone else. A bit more time and care should have been set aside for that character particularly.
From a directorial point of view, ‘IT’ is also fantastic. The narrative and storytelling flow brilliantly, nothing is rushed, but yet the viewer feels deeply invested in the story and not once bored. The tension is real, the stakes are real, and the story feels real. There is genius cinematography all throughout that adds a unique dramatic element to the plot. The intricate shadow play, the smart use of light, and the creation of an atmosphere make this production tense, creepy, and eerie. The CGI is also fantastic, as is the production design.
It must be mentioned that there is a significant comedic value to ‘IT’. There are couple of hilarious scenes, but the real comedy mostly comes from Richie (Finn Wolfhard). His jokes really give a unique flair to ‘IT’ that not many other horror movies can claim to have. Also, this way the film becomes a drama, a comedy, a mystery, and a horror. Not one of those genres is overlooked either: no, ‘IT’ balances through them perfectly, just enough to stand out of the crowd, but not so much that it gets confusing or chaotic.
The only place where Andy Muschietti seems to have screwed-up a tiny bit is with the actual horror element of ‘IT’. Setting the fantastic story and creepy elements aside, this movie simply isn’t as scary as one would want it to be. There are many missed chances throughout the story for extra horror elements. ‘IT’ is creepy and there are a few genuinely frightening scenes, but this just isn’t the horror one would want.
But perhaps this is not a bad thing? ‘IT’ is not specifically scary for the eyes, but there is a rather emotionally frightening concept about it. The real horror is imagining what those kids are going through and what they have gone through in the past. On a psychological level, ‘IT’ can truly scare. This, however, really depends on each individual viewer: some might prefer a film that makes them jump out of their seat, but others might prefer a film that scars them emotionally. Perhaps the latter is actually the real horror. Perhaps ‘IT’ is actually scarier than most horror films out there because it provokes fear in a more original way, a more real way. I, personally, felt as if the film should have been a bit scarier on the basic ‘gore’ level, but then again, some might prefer the emotionally scary version of ‘IT’.
The acting is this movie is spectacular. Much of the perfect characterization comes exactly from how well the actors were able to play the characters. Honorable mentions go to Finn Wolfhard (Richie) and Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie), both of whom brought their characters to life and who through brilliant performances were able to create a story through their acting alone. Extreme honorable mention goes to Sophia Lillis, who is unbelievable in ‘IT’. Her performance might, and probably will, literally make most viewers awe in surprise and admiration.
Bil Scarsgard is mind-blowing as Pennywise. He has truly given himself over to the character, he has made the It alive, and has created one absolutely creepy and terrifying monster. Not only that, because of Scarsgard’s performance, even Pennywise gets some characterization. The viewer can, on a basic level, understand its desires and core beliefs.
It is good.
‘IT’ is quite extraordinary. The layered story, the drama, the comedy, the emotional horror, the amazing characters, the brilliant direction, and the fantastic acting make this film one surely worth your time. This is a smart movie. The creators have clearly thought through what they want to do with this production and have actually managed to do it. The complexity and smart direction of this re-imagining of the original classic make it even better than its predecessor. With so many bad or overrated films to have come out this summer, ‘IT’ was truly a fresh and wonderful experience.
- Plot: 3.25/4
- Characters: 3.25/3.5
- Directing: 3/3.5
- Technical parts: 2.25/3
- Acting: 3.25/4
- Does it know what it is?: 1/1
- Did I overall like it?: 1/1
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As always, thank you so much for reading,