IT – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

IT – 4/5 – This has been a year of revitalization for Horror.  With films like Split and Get Out; we are witness to something unimaginable.  Being a genre that is predicated on simple storytelling, predictable jump scares and repetition use ghastly/grotesque techniques, it is good to see films go beyond common tropes.  This provides experiences that are raw, unique and amazing.  This leads us into IT.  A remake of one of Stephen Kings most famous novels, this is a film that goes beyond the clichés.  With a mixture of characterization and layered storytelling, we get something that goes beyond the genre.  Even with some hiccups along the way, IT is an amazing tale that will creep you out and strike a heart of gold.

Premise: A group of kids must find a way to conquer their fears to defeat a shapeshifting demon in their small town.

At the heart of the story are the Losers, a group of kids that must band together to fight the creature known as Pennywise.  In that cast of colorful characters (please refer to the film’s IMDb page), you have unique personas created with each individual Loser.  No matter who the camera is focused on (Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike, Eddie or Stanley), they each have well developed backstories that show their purpose to the group.  An oddball mix of friends, you see their friendship evolve organically throughout the film.  When faced with the creepiness of Pennywise, they must overcome fear, angst and peril.  This ‘finding yourself’ mantra helps provide deep characterization for each of them.  With issues at school or home, it helps contrast with the horror elements.  Seeing ‘flawed’ characters grow through their innocence helps provide a bond for the audience.  Beyond the kids, the other outstanding performance is Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise.  An enigmatic creature, you see an influx of creepiness within his interaction and mannerism.  Through subtlety, oddness and unpredictable behavior, you get a layered monster that is one of a kind.  With a combination of CGI and makeup, the aura around his presence oozes fear.  The atmosphere is tantalizing, creating an experience where you feel fear as if you’re facing Pennywise.  The rest of the cast is your typical archetypes found in any film influenced by Stephen King’s work.  From the bullies, adults and town citizens, it is very cliché.  Even with the one-dimensional side characters, you are never completely taken out of the film.

The directing is unique for the genre.  What you have is a ‘coming of age’ tale infused with the lore from Stephen King’s novel.  Mixing in the eerie, brooding and creepy scenarios with an ideal group of kids trying to ‘find themselves’; it provides layers that go beyond a simple scare.  Providing backstory, character development, methodical pacing and atmospheric detail, it generates emotional value that invoke love, hate, fear, laughter and triumph.  At the heart of everything is the disappearance of kids in a small Maine town.  Stuck in the middle is a group of friends known as the Losers, whom being to investigate what ‘IT’ is and why is it terrorizing the town.  Being that Pennywise manifests the worst fears of someone, seeing the kids interact with the paranormal compliments their growth as characters.  Each situation reveals their flaws on the surface.  Seeing that raw nature creates a world that draws you in and shocks you through dialogue, unique horror techniques and unexpected outcomes.  Watching the Losers slowly come to terms with what Pennywise is, it brings everything into focus.  Seeing as they must stop a shapeshifting demon, they see it as their ‘rite of passage’ to defeat this enemy before he kills more kids.  Through continued use of dialogue driven situations infused with horror elements, the final confrontation defines who they are as people layered in a brooding experience.  Mixing in a carness for the characters allows you to see the characterization of the whole story.  As the film rolls into its final moments, it is befitting to see them come together with real human purpose.  Seeing that they might need to come back someday, they understand their flaws and hope they can win in the end.

The visuals are a mixture of simple complexion with the horror creations of CGI.  The odd pairing juxtaposes the ominous nature of the shapeshifting demon with an ‘everyday’ setting.  That blending helps provide the shock, unpredictable and creepy nature of the characters, scenarios and the overall mystery of Pennywise.  The score is typical for any horror film.  With loud instruments with resounding elements that create tension, you get some feeling through the music.

IT is another horror film that goes beyond its sandbox and creates a unique, riveting story about a group of friends trying to conquer a demon.  From the depth of the characters to the oddness of Pennywise, you will not be disappointed in what you experience.  If you’re a fan of truly original material or Stephen King’s stories, this is one for you.  It is worth the full price of admission.

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