Stephen King’s ‘It’ reminds us why he’s the King of horror (review)

“If you’ll come with me, you’ll float too…”

I’ve mentioned it at least a couple million times when writing about movies like this: I LOVE Horror films. Specifically, ones that are carried by a strong story, a stellar cast and a phenomenal execution by a director. When these stars align, you end up with films that will do more than scare your socks off; they’ll engross you in to a world of intrigue, suspense and horror.

Stephen King has been a master at creating this atmosphere within his novels. His works have enthralled readers for decades, easily establishing the author as one of the most prolific writers of our time. His movies, on the other hand, are an entirely different story (no pun intended). It’s almost a rite of passage for filmmakers to create and execute an adaptation of one of King’s works. From 1976’s Carrie to 2016’s Cell, directors from all over have thrown their proverbial hat into the ring, wanting to establish their claim to fame by adapting one of King’s eerie tales. Unfortunately, not many have done so successfully, or even fully unscathed (check out our review of 2017’s The Dark Tower).

Fast forward to 2017. After a lackluster summer dud in The Dark Tower, fans of the Stephen “King-dom” were desperately hoping that the next King film adaptation would save us from the bad taste in our mouths. Our hopes rested in a vision of a novel that had already been adapted back in a 1990’s TV mini-series. One that carried the stellar performance of the incredibly talented Tim Curry.

“Derry is not like any town I’ve been in before.”

It is a horror suspense thrill ride that never lets up. When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, neighborhood kids band together to square off against Pennywise, an evil clown whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries. Directed by Andy Muschietti, the man behind both the critically acclaimed short film and feature length of the same name, Mama, the film stars Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis and Bill Skarsgård.

Let’s start at the very top, shall we? This film…was AMAZING! Not only did the film meet my expectations, it actually blew right past them. One of the biggest concerns that many people have building up to this movie- as well as other films- is one major success factor: hype. Hype is one of the biggest killers of most movies nowadays, as the buildup of movies caused by critics, amateur or professional, can cause the level of expectations to reach unreachable heights. This can result in a movie’s drop in box office numbers, and overall audience appeal.

It was one of those films, as the hype for this film set the bar very high. I can truly say that this film didn’t succumb to the hype train wreck, and surpassed expectations. From the opening scene to the very last, It created a sense of dread and fear that reached deep down within the most primal fears of humanity. The film knew exactly just how to show enough gore and violence, but also to leave you fearfully wondering. With the help of Muschietti, the film easily slipped past corny and cheesy, and fell right into the serious horror genre that makes it stand out as a King adaptation.

You look like a nice boy, I bet you have a lot of friends.

One of the other high point of praise I have for this film is the casting. The film carried an incredibly large weight over its head, having to live up to the expectations set by the first adaptation. Now let me preface something: no one can ever surpass the outstanding performance given by Tim Curry as Pennywise. The man carried creepy and sinister in a delicate balance that gave many of us nightmares for years. What this film excels at doing is giving fans a deeper connection with the source material as well as our group of young heroes.

Although Skarsgård does a great job as the titular creature, the real stars that shine bright in the film are the kids. Every single performance will draw you in to the world of each character, from the boy who just moved to town, to the outsider that doesn’t integrate with the locals. I found myself drawn into the stories that I was more than familiar with, and encapsulated by not only who these kids are, but who they will grow up to become. I joked with a friend that I had taken to the screening that I’d be willing to wait 27 years for the follow-up film just to see these same young actors step into their roles again, and face Pennywise for one final time. The performances were that good.

Another great factor of the film are the scenes that just plain make you poop your pants. No eloquence needed here, you’ll definitely crap yourself if you’re not paying attention. The scenes that you’ve seen in promos and clips are nothing in comparison to what’s in store in the film. And they aren’t just loud booming jumpscares or shrieks; these are bonafide fear-inducing time-taking scenes that crescendo to a point where you will have to check your underwear afterwards. I know I did…several times. We’ve finally made our way from Paranormal Activity-esque type scare tactics and have gone back to our roots in horror: creating dread and fear, one frightening step at a time.

“Promise me you’ll come back if he’s not dead…”

There are so many things I loved about this movie, I could go on forever. It has been a staple in the horror genre for so long, and the fear to see it rebooted is very real. Thanks to director Andres Muschietti, we now have more than just an adaptation; we have a doorway. A doorway to a universe that houses incredible tales and adventures. A doorway that now can make way for many others to walk through, and succeed. I so excited for what’s in store for the future of the Stephen “King-dom,” and I know that this Friday, the door will be swing wide open for fans around the world.

Rating: 4.5/5 Atoms

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