Movie Review: IT is a Terrifying Treat

Movie Review: IT is a Terrifying Treat
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Following three lackluster weeks at the box office, the first blockbuster of the fall is here. And It (meaning the noun and the title) delivers everything fans of the popular horror property have hoped for.

It is a confusing name for a movie, though one with a quickly apparent meaning to this world. It’s also a confusing movie to classify because it’s equal parts a hilarious coming-of-age adventure and a gripping horror. If you can handle it.

The horror genre doesn’t often take the spotlight of a big-budget Hollywood release because it frequently doesn’t need large budgets to tell the story. The money here, however, is used with great care. Between the striking cinematography and dynamic sets, everything is brilliantly produced.

Based on the popular 1986 novel by Stephen King, the film moves with a fresh intensity different from the book and also the 1990 miniseries adaptation which starred Tim Curry. Modern sensibilities have somewhat influenced the structure and dialogue, though this new movie is a tight and well-edited adaptation.

The story itself focuses on a group of adolescents from 11-14 called in Loser’s Club. In summer 1989, the group is haunted by visions of their worst fears, crafted by a demonic clown named Pennywise. When offered a chance to “float”, the kids fight back against terrors real and supernatural to save their friends.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures.

This plot is a great subject for a horror movie. The film’s suspense is smartly built and disciplined director Andy Muschetti keeping the mixing genres as authentic as possible. More surprisingly, the story and characters are deeply rich and thoughtfully detailed. It makes for a fascinating group of people that’s fun to spend time with on screen.

While the ensemble cast is uniformly strong, the child actors are the ones who truly shine with their honesty and sharp timing on camera. A special nod is well earned by Sophia Lillis as Bev, the girl on the edge of her teens in an unforgiving social atmosphere. She steals every scene she’s in.

Technical skill and strength also come from the intelligent well-shot screenplay, combined with a musical pulse that sustains the entire time. Sometimes it sounds a bit too ominous, along with thick foreshadowing that doesn’t allow for any thematic surprises.

The biggest problem with It is the inconsistency over the two-hour epic. King’s prevalent style moving between comfort and the opposite means it’s crystal clear when something isn’t going to be scary.

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It’s also an intense movie by any standards. It definitely doesn’t need to be as vulgar as it is to make the pressured kids appear believable. But the short scenes of gore, while infrequent, can be both extremely graphic and notably disturbing to see. (It can also be a bit too extreme. The film’s merits are scary enough without the extravagnt blood.)

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Despite some minor pitfalls, It is a rewarding horror experience that’s going to play well both this weekend and through the Halloween season. Expect very busy cinemas with fans this weekend clamoring to see the film. But should you join them?

Some audiences will clearly have more interest, and while not a mandatory prerequisite, your familiarity with the genre and story will greatly increase your chances. It’s not the scariest movie ever made, and adult viewers who’ve ever seen a horror film will be fine.

But audiences beware, too. This movie, however dramatically satisfying, is an intense and occasionally uncomfortable experience. There are several brutally disturbing (albeit very short) scenes that can be difficult to watch. As for children? This combined with some coarse language make this notably inappropriate for anyone 14 and under.

If you’re willing to steel your nerves and look for a great mix of fun and terror, It is both expertly crafted and a strong moral of what fear represents, and how it can be fought. Fans will certainly be delighted with the final result, as will mainstream moviegoers with a bit of mettle.

It doesn’t just soar on a sustained, boring idea. If you’re looking for a giddy fright, go ahead. Join the packed crowds. And you’ll float too.

It
3 out of 4 stars

18A, 135 minutes. Horror Adventure.
Directed by Andy Muschietti.
Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard and Bill Skarsgård.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, and Cineplex Oakville and VIP. Also in IMAX.

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