Everyone is born with two fears: fear of falling and loud noises. All other fears are either learned or experienced. Some can be as simple as clowns or more dark with a parental figure. The creature in the new horror movie hit of the year, IT (2017), takes those fears and uses them against children to feed off of. IT (2017) is based off of Steven King’s, the modern KING of horror, novel of the same name. There was also an earlier miniseries version, IT (1990), but was criticized for its pacing of the story. However, there will be no comparing the two works to this one and just critique it as a stand alone movie.
IT (2017) follows the life of seven kids being hunted by a demon, known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, in Derry, Maine of 1989. After he loses his little brother, Georgie, to unknown causes, Bill Denbrough, the main protagonist, wraps himself and his friends in uncovering the dark truth of the town’s children disappearances. The story is brilliantly portrayed, taking its time developing each character in such a way that we end up rooting for them to beat the monster. Some characters, however, weren’t given as much development as others, but they are still likeable due to their quirky character traits. There’s also a balance in tone; some scenes overwhelming the audience with terrifying tension then switching to a more happy and funny tone, allowing the audience a break between all the jump scares and creepy atmosphere. IT (2017) leaves us wanting more and that’s what Hollywood is planning on giving us.
The movie relied heavily on how well the actors were able to portray their characters. Luckily, IT (2017) was surrounded by a talented cast that was able to deliver and make it a movie worth watching. The children were really skilled, especially Jaeden Lieberher, who starred as the stuttering protagonist, and Finn Wolfhard, who has another big role in Stranger Things as Mike Wheeler. Bill Skarsgård was perfect for the role of Pennywise, using his drool, sudden shifts in emotions and spastic movements to make his character truly terrifying. Despite the wide range of characters, there was no noticeable part of the movie that’ll make you think that the acting was not believable. The acting was consistent throughout the film.
Alongside the great performances, IT (2017) has amazing cinematography, as well. Through the use of moving shots, it makes the audience forget that they’re watching a movie and, instead, think that they’re a part of the world that the characters are in. Thus, it unconsciously makes the story and the existence of Pennywise even more terrifying.
The special effects were also a vital piece in making the movie work, with all its different monsters and gore, and the movie was able to do it really well. The range of monsters presented a challenge to the production team, but the special effects were able to make the creatures pretty lifelike. Although there were some moments that the effects could have been better, it didn’t pull the audience out of the film since they were already so engrossed by the story.
Horror is defined by soundtracks; if a horror doesn’t have the correct sounds or ambience, the audience won’t be scared. This is definitely not the case with IT (2017). Benjamin Wallfisch used orchestra to fit the separate tones of the scenes, whether it be more happy or scary, and produced an amazing horror soundtrack. It also incorporated some 80s songs to really put us into the time period of the story. The music was able to add a lot to IT (2017) by making it more scary.
One out of the many things that is great about this movie is that there is an underlying meaning to it. A lot of modern horror focuses more on the scares than a message. But this film is entirely different, including themes of overcoming fears and teamwork. There’s no such thing as people not being afraid of something. Everyone has their own fear. We just have to overcome them with the help of our loved ones. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once put it; the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Everything about IT (2017) is great, so much so that it should be held up as a paragon for modern horror movies. From the acting to the soundtrack, it is definitely worth the two hour and fifteen minute watch, which goes by very fast anyway since it’s such an entertaining time. Obviously this movie isn’t for people who get scared very easily or don’t like horror, but, if you do, I highly recommend it.