Review – It: Chapter One
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Produced by: Barbara Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard & Sophia Lillis
Release Date: September 8th 2017
I re-watched It: Chapter One recently for review and I had a pretty good time going back to it. It is not a perfect movie by any stretch, but as far as remakes of classic horror movies usually go, this could have been a lot worse.
The 2017 remake of IT was highly anticipated by Stephen King fans around the world upon its release and being a huge fan of King myself and growing up reading his stuff meant that I was one of these excited fans. I also loved the original 1990 version starring Tim Curry when I was younger, so I was really hoping that this remake wouldn’t suck.
Let’s go through what I like about the movie first of all. The movie opens with the tragic and brutal death of Georgie Denborough. Just like the book, he follows his paper sailboat down a storm drain, where he first encounters IT. This first appearance of Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise sets the tone for the rest of the movie; unflinching and horrifying. I felt that this intro was extremely effective in setting up what the audience could expect from this adaption, both tonally and visually.
I think that performances given by the child actors in the movie are phenomenal, much better than I had anticipated before seeing the film. They all do a great job with the material they are given and each manage to bring some range to their roles. I like the visuals for the most part and appreciate the use of mostly practical effects, my highlights being the headless burning boy in the library and when Pennywise’s entire head opens up to consume Beverly.
I enjoy the fact that the movie serves as both a coming of age story and as a horror movie. Stranger Things was clearly inspired by the original IT and this version is clearly inspired by Stanger Things, which is nice to see as a fan of both series. I like how the movie was about kids, but deals with adult themes in a mature manner. I also admire how the movie works in a fair amount of comedic moments whilst still remaining frightening.
Another thing that I appreciate are the few moments of subtle creepiness that the film sprinkles throughout, such as the kids TV show that can be heard in the background talking about how ‘you should dance along with the clown,’ and encouraging you to be violent etc, I think that this is a really nice touch. Also, during the library scene where Ben is flipping through the history book, you see IT taking the form of the librarian in the background, as she stands really creepily staring at Ben from the background of the scene. This really freaked me out when I first noticed it. I also like how some of the jump-scares worked, but unfortunately not all of them do.
Now onto what I don’t like about the film; my biggest issue with this movie is how formulaic it ends up feeling by around the halfway mark. With each new member of the losers club we are introduced to, we find out what the kid is scared of, then IT appears to them as the aforementioned fear, then we get a jump-scare and the scene cuts away, the next kid is introduced and the same thing happens again. This occurs repeatedly about eight times and by the fifth or sixth time it isn’t scary any longer. The worst thing that a horror movie can be is to become predictable and I’m sorry to say that this is what happens here. It ends up feeling like a checklist:
1. A child is introduced into the movie. Check
2. Some exposition is given for why they are scared of a certain thing. Check
3. IT takes the form of said fear and scares the kid. Check
4. Jumpscare happens and we abruptly cut to the next scene. Check
5. Rinse and repeat.
Some of the jump-scares do work though. Although the jump-scare during the projector screen is very obviously telegraphed, the fact that Pennywise is so huge in that scene did take me by surprise during my first viewing, which is a nice touch. Also the scene I mentioned earlier with the headless boy in the library is well structured in the sense that once the boy is chasing Ben through the library you think that you have already seen the scare, but when Pennywise leapt out from nowhere it was a genuine surprise.
The sound design is another element of the movie that I had a love/hate relationship with. For me, good sound design is essential to any worthwhile horror movie. I think that the score used in the film was fantastic; the varied pieces perfectly complement the tone of each scene they are used in. I also think that some of the sound effects are very well implemented in places.
At other points though, the audio just annoys me. The most egregious example of this is after Beverly smacks her dad across the head and IT appears behind her and grabs her. The sound that occurs here is ear piercingly loud, to the point that it is uncomfortable. Its not scary, its not enjoyable, its just obnoxiously loud. It also comes across as lazy; it’s as if in post production someone decided that that scene wasn’t scary enough, so as a quick fix they just put in a painfully loud noise.
Another technical element that bothers me in places is the lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy how a lot of the scenes take place in broad daylight, meaning that we get to see IT in all of his terrifying glory. And in some scenes the lack of lighting adds a sense of dread and helps accentuate the film’s tone, but at times it obscures what is going on and shrouds too much of the environment and characters in darkness, to the point where you have to squint to see what is going on.
Overall after re-watching It: Chapter One for review, this is a decent adaption. Bill Skarsgard does a fantastic job as Pennywise, the actors playing the kids are all great and the movie does have some effective scares. I was just taken out of it too many times though, due to the predictable nature of the repeated jump-scare sequences and some really poorly implemented technical elements.
Buy tickets for BGCP Comic Con in and around Glasgow Scotland – BUY TICKETS
If you want to be part of the BGCP community, Join us on Discord, Twitter, Instagram etc then click HERE