“We All Float Down Here” A Review of IT (2017)

**WARNING: CONTAINS EXTREMELY MILD SPOILERS + CLOWNS**

IT (2017) is currently the most universally talked about horror movie. There is no escaping it’s presence on television and social media; horror fan or not it is unavoidable. Opening on the 8th of September here in the UK, it has already proven itself to be one of the fastest grossing films of 2017. This latest adaptation of the 1986 mammoth Stephen King novel has been highly anticipated and boy, did it deliver the shocks and scares.

IT

IT centers on a group of misfit teenagers, referred to as “The Losers Club” who are terrorized by an ambiguous evil entity that takes the shape of a sinister clown named Pennywise.

Directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama) (2013); the well-received fright flick altered the original setting of the 1950’s in favour of the recent past; the late 1980’s. The updated timeline provides the film with a more modern outlook and shares a parallel tone with the popular Netflix series Stranger Things (2016-) which is also based in the affectionately remembered decade. The 80’s setting integrates elements of familiarity that holds appeal for the target audience. There are clear Spielberg influences in place in the sense of it being an extraordinary coming-of-age story however this is of course also derived directly from King’s source material too.

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Unlike the iconic 1990 mini-series which starred Tim Curry as the titular character, the 2017 version focuses solely on the main players during their youth and their initial acquaintance with the feared force of evil. The aforementioned 90’s film applied flashback scenes and flitted between the past and present depicting them as traumatized adults as well as assertive children. The film states that this is the first chapter with a confirmed continuation in the works. Containing the story to one timeline allows stronger audience investment and detail within the plot.

Muschietti has achieved the right tonal balance, capturing unsettling horror, an unrelenting sense of dread but also enough humor to bring in slight relief and comfort. Surprisingly, the film is a lot more brutal than expected especially in the depicted gore and violence against young children and the violence committed by the children. It’s a brave yet daring move, utilizing its R rating (15 in the UK) to maximum effect. In fact, it opens with a bang and doesn’t let up once during its lengthy run time.

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IT operates as a strong ensemble piece. There are no weak links among the young but immensely talented cast. The characterization is thoroughly developed, each character embodying their own individual personalities and layered dimensions. Jaeden Lieberher plays protagonist Bill Denbrough with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. Stranger Things favorite Finn Wolfhard provides Ritchie Tozier with equal amounts of forthright boldness and likeable charm. Jack Dylan Grazer captures his hypochondriac character Eddie Kaspbrak with vulnerability and fearfulness. Sophia Lillis gives a stunning performance as Beverley Marsh, the headstrong tomboy harbouring a tumultuous home life and Jackson Robert Scott is heartbreaking as poor, innocent Georgie. The child actors are at the forefront with the parental influence and protection exceptionally thin on the ground leaving them exposed to Pennywise’s terror and their own growing pains. The audience experiences the tale through the eyes of the troubled teens giving leeway for an abundance of imaginative horrific moments.

Bill Skarsgård is a revelation as Pennywise. Any reservations the fans have had about his rendition of the character will soon be dispelled. He is quite frankly terrifying. His first appearance in the sewers sets the tone for the kind of character he is going to be. Skarsgård portrays the chilling clown as outright frightening and grotesque as he salivates over his prey but at the same time sustains a whimsical air about him. There’s an initial softness in his manner as he lures the children to their impending doom before opening his razor-sharp jaws. It goes without saying he is a contender for one of the scariest villains of all time.

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IT is highly compelling, emotion driven and a genuine slice of pure horror. The film features effective CGI, unsettling set pieces and a nostalgic soundtrack. New Kids on the Block anyone? The film has even been Stephen King approved. The prolific horror author even had his own expectations defied. Undeniably, Muschietti and his crew have well and truly pulled off a potential horror classic that manages to outshine the original adaptation. Hopefully, the second installment will live up to the strength and quality of this one but only time will tell.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

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One Response to ““We All Float Down Here” A Review of IT (2017)”

  1. […] a crowd-pleaser from start to finish with exceptional performances from its young cast. Much like Andrew Muschetti’s IT (2017), kid-cast led horror films are proving to be a hit right now and this is no exception. If you […]

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