Kyle J. Steenblik

IT is Beautiful in its Terror [Review]

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IT
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Screenplay by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Based on It by Stephen King
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton
Release date September 8, 2017
Running time 135 minutes
Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language

5 stars out of 5When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, neighborhood kids band together to square off against Pennywise, an evil clown whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

IT may be one of the most anticipated remakes in recent memory, in good and bad ways. This is likely due to the cult status of the 1990 mini-series that almost lived up to the reputation of the book, and the legendary nature of the book itself. It was apparent this weight was felt by director Andy Muschitti, and actor Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise to outrageous effect. It was clear both took that burden and turned the albatross into a motivation to turn out the best possible film. That effort payed out with tremendous dividends, resulting in a remarkably well-made film, but one that is completely terrifying. IT is such a high-quality film that I feel very little remorse completely writing off any of the minor flaws I found, because even the flaws were beautiful.

That said, I am not the largest fan of modern horror films, in fact I dread this time of year because I know I will be sitting through several. I feel this needs a brief explanation. I grew up in the 80’s, and began watching rented horror films with my older brother in the late 80’s. When I say I watched them with him I mean I would wake up early Saturday or Sunday morning and load the tape he rented into the VCR before anyone else woke up. For the most part these were campy, a little scary to a kid, but I enjoyed them. In the 90’s I was becoming invested in the genre, but as newer films emerged there were trends that began to drive me away. The reliance on gore, violence, and startle tactics turned me off. The fun of the camp was vanishing, and the creative storytelling gave way to twist endings. When I say I loved everything about IT, I mean that very genuinely. When I say it terrified me more than when I first watched The Blair Witch Project at midnight in a small theatre when most of us were still not sure if it was an actual documentary, that carries some weight for me.

While I gave a lion’s share of the credit to Muschitti, and Skarsgård for making a film that I love and scared the crap out of me, a huge amount of credit also needs to go to the entire cast. Specifically, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff, who formed an ensemble that was instantly amicable. They played so well together I could have sworn they were actually lifelong friends. While Wolfhard stole nearly every screen he was in, he was not overly greedy, although he did have the vast majority of highly memorable and quotable lines.

One last thing. I need to thank Bill Skarsgård for laying the foundation for what may have been one of the worst night’s sleep I’ve had in years. You will haunt a great deal of nightmares for year to come, and you have singlehanded destroyed clowns for everyone, forever.
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