Stephen King’s It opened in theaters on Sept. 8 as one of the most hyped horror movies of 2017. In its first two weeks, the film broke box office records for R – rated horror movies, surpassing the previous record holder, The Exorcist (1973). It is an adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel and reboot of the 1980’s short TV miniseries of the same name. Directed by Andy Muschietti and starring Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Clown, It (2017) was intended to remain as close as possible to the original source material. Readers should be advised that this review may contain spoilers for the movie.
The film features an entity known as Pennywise who – for the majority of the film – takes the form of a clown. He terrorizes the small town of Derry by kidnapping children and eating them. A group of misfits known as the Losers’ Club discover that Pennywise is behind the recent string of missing children and embark on a mission to put him down for good.
The film begins during a rainstorm as the main character’s younger brother, Georgie, plays with his paper boat. Mirroring the 1980’s miniseries, Georgie encounters Pennywise lurking in the storm drain where his paper boat disappeared. However, here the similarities with the original movie ends. In the miniseries, it is implied that Georgie’s arm gets bitten off by Pennywise; whereas in the new movie, the same scene is depicted with all of its bloody detail. The rest of the movie follows this trend with gory scenes whenever a character gets hurt or killed.
It (2017) is set apart from other horror movies by its spectacular attention to detail. While most movies from this genre don’t give much attention to the surroundings, It is an exception. Muschietti describes the town of Derry’s backstory as a coal town in the 1800s whose settlers mysteriously disappear. This sets the stage for the current story that takes place in the 1980’s. The background characters also have enough screen time to give them distinct personalities. An example is the Losers’ Club’s bully and sadist, Patrick Hollister, who keeps animals that he tortures in a refrigerator in the woods. These minor details give the movie a sort of realism, making it seem like an actual town.
While the jokes were witty and added comedic relief to the horror movie, the expletives were noticeably repetitive and at times distracted from the critical scenes. However, the Loser’s Club felt more like actual teenagers this time around. The constant streams of jokes and character-to-character interactions added more personality to the group of friends, setting them apart from the typical high school misfits.
Overall, this film was enjoyable in comparison to the usual horror movies that are just compilations of cheap jump scares and horror scenes. What makes It (2017) unique is that while it does have the usual elements of horror movies, it has good character development and an actual plotline. Even though It is rated R, I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys horror movies.