Director Andy Muschietti’s “It,” released September 8, 2017, seemed
destined to fail. Most big budget horror films released this time of year are predictable, jump-scare fueled, horribly acted disasters. “It” is also a remake, which have an unfortunate track record of being terrible, if not simply worse, than the original. The film of the same title, released in 1990, is an iconic adaptation of Stephen King’s novel also sharing the vague and hard to talk about title. Famous lines, such as “Everything floats down here,” have permeated pop culture to the point that people who have no idea what the context of that line even is know the line. And when something gets popular, eventually some producer thinks that they can make some free money after waiting a while and re-releasing the same film with less effort put in.
“It” (2017), however, is the most refreshing breath of fresh air that I have experienced from any film in the horror genre. Typically, I hate almost any film that calls itself a horror movie. The stereotype of a poorly written story, terrible acting, and predictable scares has so burned into me by past failures of cinema that I went into the film with incredibly low expectations. I walked out of it with a deep feeling of satisfaction that no horror movie has ever given me.
To start with the story, there were two simple ways it could have gone. Either the story would be adapted well and Stephen King’s prowess would carry it, or it would be adapted poorly and it would suck. The film-makers also understood this and chose the former option. They adapted the story as closely to the original book as possible, coming even closer than the 1990 film did to adapting the story.
The acting was the biggest surprise for myself. I can’t stand child actors normally. There are exceptions to this rule, but overall, I find that children are so bad at acting that it destroys my suspension of disbelief. In
“It,” all of the kids look, act, and feel like kids. This makes the film even better in my eyes as it was a pleasant surprise to find a film that understands how to direct children to act well.
And finally, the big one for me: the scares. “It” is actually terrifying. All of the scares are incredibly creative and they don’t leave a sour taste in my mouth, or take the cheap shot of startling me. “It” actually scared me and made me uncomfortable. Normal jump-scare fests like “Lights Out,” released in 2016, have me leaving the theater feeling angry at the film for taking the low road.
Finally, “It” was one of the best films released this year, and easily one of the greatest horror movies ever made. A film that by every prediction should be terrible took a group of very talented people and defied all expectations. To provide an arbitrary rating scale, as that is what is popular to end reviews with now, as a horror film, “It” gets a 14.5/14.5, and removing it from the box of the horror genre, I give it an 8/10. It’s not perfect, and there are some obvious continuity errors, and botched special effects, but otherwise it is a must see this Halloween.
Photo: Warner Bros