Release Date: September 5th, 2017 (TCL Chinese Theatre)
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Written by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Based on: It by Stephen King
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs
New Line Cinema, Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, KatzSmith Productions, Warner Bros., 135 Minutes
“When you’re a kid, you think that you’ll always be… protected, and cared for. Then, one day, you realize that’s not true. If you open your eyes, you will see what we’re going through. ‘Cause when you’re alone as a kid, the monsters see you as weaker. You don’t even know they’re getting closer. Until it’s too late.” – Stanley Uris
I was a few weeks late, in seeing this. That’s not my fault, it is the fault of Hurricane Irma, who decided to bring her own version of horror, darkness and a lot of water. An inconvenient but impressive attempt at stealing It‘s thunder away from the residents of Florida.
Anyway, I can’t say that I was super excited about It. I was not a fan of the original adaptation and I’m not a huge Stephen King fan, from a literary standpoint. While I do like some of his work and have enjoyed some of the cinematic adaptations, over the years, a good King film is really hard to come by. Plus, I still can’t get rid of the foul taste that The Dark Tower left in my mouth, just last month.
It surprised me. In fact, it shocked me how good it was. Now we have a film fighting for a spot in the Holy Trinity of Stephen King Movies. Granted, it won’t usurp The Shining – the 1980 one, The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile but it is probably the best King adaptation outside of that perfect trinity.
While Tim Curry’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown was the only real highlight of the original It, Bill Skarsgård doesn’t try to recreate that magic. Skarsgård makes the role wholly his and gives us a version of Pennywise that is even darker and more terrifying. In fact, Skarsgård’s version of the character could feasibly reach the iconic heights of Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, Christopher Lee’s Dracula or Boris Karloff’s version of Frankenstein’s Monster. Skarsgård absolutely takes over this picture and doesn’t let go for a second. It isn’t often that you see an Oscar caliber horror performance but this is worthy of that distinction. I haven’t been this frightened and intimidated by a Hollywood monster since John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The kids in this movie are also great. While most children can tend to get annoying in films, these are kids that feel real and are real. Their horror and terror is greatly captured, feels authentic and keeps you invested in them. Also, their gravitas and their bravery on screen is astounding. It reminds me of the kids from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Stand By Me, The Goonies and The Monster Squad but with an extra dose of realism and chutzpah. It probably didn’t hurt that they pulled in Finn Wolfhard from the super popular King inspired Netflix series Stranger Things.
The film is just perfectly cast, from top to bottom.
The cinematography, the sound, the attention to detail, everything visually and audibly just felt right. I was the same age as these kids at the time that this film takes place. I felt like I was reliving a part of my own existence minus creepy clowns, scary flute ladies, disease-ridden hobos, zombies and a rapist father.
The team behind this pulled off magic. It is quite literally lightning in a bottle. While it isn’t perfect, it is pretty damn close.
For those who might not know, the film just covers the timeline when our heroes are kids. It ends with “Chapter One” displayed across the screen. One can assume that Chapter Two, which should follow the adult half of the story, is still to come. Once I looked into it, the director has confirmed that production will most likely begin in the spring of 2018.