One of the most anticipated horror films of the year has finally emerged from the sewer system from whence it came, floating above the remnants of the mixed bag of summer movies. Is it good? Or, rather, is IT good?
Reviewing IT (a fresh off the editorial chopping block movie at number 1 on iMDB’s popularity list and a film that everybody is talking about) in the regular sense of the word may prove rather counter-productive for a small fish of a film blogger. As with any new release, every other clown fish or tuna and every big shark is going to reflect the same praise or criticisms into the critical echo chamber, outside of the odd contrarian, and reeling off a paragraphed checklist of what the film did and didn’t do right, as easy as it was for Pennywise to reel Georgie into the storm drain. In that respect, I am going to keep this short.
Derry, Maine? Check. Band of kids? Check. Bullies? Check. There is no disregarding that IT is a product of Stephen King’s, the newly released horror film standing leagues ahead of King’s other adaptations in recent years, including Cell, The Dark Tower and the mediocre Under The Dome. King’s tropes are a part of what makes him one of the most prolific writers of his era as he produces both quantity and consistent quality in his novels, so it’s nice that an adaptation to the source material justice.
Though IT features a fair few jump scares in a fashion we have come to expect of films like Annabelle and Insidious, it also builds the mystery, small-town atmosphere and characters in ways directly in contrast to many mainstream horror movies. Each of the children are set apart, give memorable performances and interact perfectly with one another in a Stand By Me sort of-way, creating an interesting and often hilarious dynamic tat can be surprising from such young stars. In this regard, IT is a rather special popular horror film – the audience is not rooting for the killer and their bloody rampages this time. That does not mean, however, that no credit is due to Bill Skarsgard, offering a clown performance to rival that of Heath Ledger’s Joker – the outward eyes, the dorky teeth and the Mickey Mouse voice all lend towards a much more terrifying experience than the retrospective campy performance of Tim Curry.
Visuals are excellent throughout, with tone, colour, mise-en-scene and framing impeccable, once again surprising as such film techniques can be lost at the wayside in popular horror in favour of effects, practical or CGI. The soundtrack can be unnerving at times and at others a little clinched, but overall it works well in context. IT may not be up there among the highest of horror ranks with The Shining, Halloween and The Thing, but it’s not all that far behind. If you’re thinking of going to see one of two King adaptations this year, my advice would be to choice life. I mean choose drugs. Sex. Choose Marvel. I mean clowns. Choose IT. You’ll float, too!
The Film Fanatic