The Losers Are Triumphant…For Now
By: Steven Aiello
Stephen King’s novels are some of the most iconic stories of all time, and It is no stranger to that standard.
The story about a group of seven kids, dubbed “The Losers”, banding together to stop the killing spree of the demonic clown, Pennywise. It’s a popular tale that has gained a considerable following, not to mention a TV miniseries.
Naturally, there were high expectations for the 2017 remake, which were met with financial and critical successes all around. For all of its success, It is most definitely deserving of those accomplishments.
Focusing solely on the first chapter of the novel and set in the 80’s rather than the 50’s, It ,Part 1, succeeds at being a horror movie, though not without a number of noticeable flaws.
The film begins with an excellent intro that embodies many great characteristics of horror movies. The mood and atmosphere is dark and unsettling, the music equally fitting, and the actors’ performances are highly convincing.
All of these elements combined created one of the best scenes in the movie. It was so good in fact, that it almost makes everything else in the film feel worse by comparison. Fortunately, the other aspects of the film hold up well enough.
The actors in It are undoubtedly the best aspect of the movie. Despite the cast being comprised mostly of teenagers, every actor plays their role in a way that is believable without feeling forced or annoying.
It felt as though there wasn’t one truly bad performance in the film. This is assisted by a relatively well written script, which for the most part, fits well for a horror; especially, one set in the 80’s, with a decent blend of humorous lines to boot.
With that being said the comedy did feel unnecessary or even exaggerated at times, like when one of the kids mistakes “placebos” for “gazebos” in what is supposed to be a serious scene. Shortcomings aside, the cast and script are solid and make for an enjoyable experience.
Special mention goes to Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, who delivers a fascinating yet creepy performance as the demonic clown. Finn Wolfhard, as Richie, is a fun performance with his sarcastic, sharp wit and the two lead actors, Jaeden Lieberher as Bill, and Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, who give great performances that make for charming and sympathetic characters.
Thanks to a sizable budget, the film also does a respectable job of replicating an 80’s environment, making things feel all the more believable. The soundtrack also fits well, though the only truly memorable songs are the licensed songs used throughout the film.
However, the horror aspect of the film feels somewhat lacking compared to the rest of the movie. Horror movies are difficult to make because true horror arguably lies in concepts, ideas and/or feelings, rather than what is actually on screen.
It does contain a good amount of scenes that feel genuinely unsettling and horrifying, but for every creepy scene or horrifying concept, there is another scene with a loud moment, a jump scare, or even both.
It manages these moments better than most horror movies nowadays, but it still comes off as poorly written and even lazy. Combined with the scripts bigger focus on comedy, the horror is good at best, which knocks the quality of the movie down considerably.
There are also quite a few clichés in It, which fall into the same category as the aforementioned jump scares: better managed than most films, but still noticeable. One particularly glaring example is Henry Bowers, the film’s bully.
Bowers feels more like a stereotype of a bully rather than an actual character, with his inexplicable hatred of the main characters, lack of redeeming qualities and even his liking for heavy metal.
There is a brief scene midway into the movie that suggests he has feelings of inferiority or fear because of his father, but it doesn’t accomplish much and he still feels like a caricature instead of a character.
For all that this movie does wrong, It is still a welcomed remake of the 1990 miniseries.
It manages to remain faithful to the source material while making a unique and captivating identity for itself.
It is a step in the right direction for remakes and is serviceable to horror movies for younger audiences and even older audiences.
In spite of that, members in the latter group should watch at their own discretion because of the movie’s louder moments and jump scares.