REVIEW: ‘IT’ Is A Horror Movie That Has Heart, But Still Provides Chills

The simple verdict? Go see “It.”

“It” is a film based on the 1986 horror book of the same name written by Stephen King and revolves around seven kids who live in Maine. Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Ben (Jeremy Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Mike (Chosen Jacobs) Eddie (Jack Grazer) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) are the protagonists and find themselves coming together and becoming close friends.

Driving forces that bring the group together are the actions of a group of bullies in their small town and an evil entity that takes the form of a clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). With the torment from Pennywise increasing for all of them, the seven start to research how they can survive.

“It” works extraordinarily well thanks to how well balanced its story elements were. The movie is telling a horror tale and a coming of age story, and both are weaved together for an engaging, fun and creepy picture.

The horror aspect, for example, builds and builds as the movie goes on, with the protagonists learning more about the evil entity and the encounters with It becoming more intense every time. The coming of age element, meanwhile, is shown by how the lead characters deal with not only the supernatural threat but also their own anxieties and issues in life.

It’s rather impressive how each of these aspects blend together, with one never overshadowing the other. It makes for a well-rounded flick that gives more depth than what’s normally offered in a horror film.

Helping in that cause is the young cast who all manage to give fantastic performances. Each character in the group has their own personality quirks that set them apart and the performances are all on point. It’s their delivery of the characteristics and their chemistry on screen that really gives the movie its heart. On top of being a scary film, the camaraderie portrayed through these characters on screen makes for something far more endearing.

Pennywise, the evil entity terrorizing the kids and to an extent the whole city was also portrayed well by Skarsgard. The Pennywise featured in this adaptation has a very threatening and even otherworldly look. It has a lanky figure, a frightening demeanor and Skarsgard’s creepy delivery can put an audience immediately on edge.

Assisting in the overall tone of the film is how well it looks. Costume and set design recreated the 1980s, which is when the film takes place, and the filmmakers did a great job bringing the scares to the screen, too. Some fantastic examples include the seven characters using a slideshow projector and another scene involving a bathroom sink. The visuals in these sequences are extremely creepy and give plenty of chills.

The movie isn’t always perfect, occasionally the scares didn’t work, sometimes because of the CGI here and there. Plus, the movie could have tacked on maybe another five minutes to explore the aftermath of the climax. For the most part, though, the movie works on a lot of levels. 4.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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