Based on Steven King’s 1986 novel, It has made a smash at the box office in the past week. In the film’s opening weekend, It made a whopping $123 million dollars in North America alone. Director Andy Muschietti (Mama) brings King’s 1,138 page novel to life on the big screen and updates the story to make the eponymous character, in all forms, more life-like and realistic for a 21st century audience.
Set in 1989, It follows seven adolescents in the fictional town of Derry, Maine as they experience and discover their town’s violent history, all at the hands of “It” a shapeshifting trans-dimensional being that most often takes the form of a horrifying clown named Pennywise.
After the mysterious death of his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) in October 1988, older brother Bill Denborough (Jaeden Lieberher) and his friends Richie Tozier (Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard), Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) and Eddie Kasbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer) search the town for Bill’s missing younger brother. After rescuing Ben Hascom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) from the hands of town bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and his gang, the boys form a group called “The Losers Club.” The addition of Beverley Marsh (Sophia Lillis) rounds out the club. United, the Losers Club tracks down It, experiencing the being in the form of each of their worst fears.
Overall, the film takes a darker, more cinematic tone than the acclaimed 1990 ABC miniseries, while stay staying (moderately) true to the source material, redacting some minor details that do not detract from the general plot. Muschietti’s adaptation of the best-selling novel serves to bring audiences deeper into the story by means of updating several key aspects of the plot. The film’s time period (moved up 30 years from the book’s 1950’s setting to 1980’s) allows for a more realistic experience for the audience. The manifestations of the children’s fears also change from classic movie monsters (vampires, werewolves) to personal traumas (you’ll have to see the film yourself!). While 2017’s It only covers the children’s experience with It in 1989, a sequel, planned for 2019 will finish the duology. As the story goes, It resurfaces every 27 years, so the assumed time period of the second film will be 2016, an even more modern setting.
Praise must be given to the man behind It’s preferred manifestation, Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise brings new, terrifying life to the character, playing homage to original Pennywise, Tim Curry, while still bringing a fresh Pennywise to the screen. The costume design, choreography and special effects that surround Pennywise make It even harder to mentally grasp, turning the terror factor of every second he appears on the big screen up to an eleven.
With a terrifying score by composer Benjamin Wallfisch, Muschietti’s It is slated to be a commercial success and a modern horror classic.
Final Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars