Movie Review: It (2017)

I went to go see Stephen King’s ‘It’ this evening with my young teenage daughter.  I expected to see a decently well-made horror movie of one of my favorite horror books – enjoyable but nothing extraordinary.  I didn’t expect what I got – one of the best coming of age stories I have seen in a long time and perhaps the best King adaption since ‘The Shawshank Redemption’.

Without going into too much details, something has been preying upon the children of Derry for centuries and the movie starts with the iconic scene of a kid encountering Pennywise the Clown at the storm gutter.  There are plenty of jump scares and grisly imagery though nothing too terribly gratuitous by today’s standards.  Though I have no doubt some will still be loyal to Tim Curry’s Pennywise, I think Bill Skarsgard’s interpretation of the character was closer to the book and the more frightening version.  It was an effective horror movie and I enjoyed those aspects of it.

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The Loser’s Club taking the battle to Pennywise

But much like the book, ‘It’ really isn’t a horror book as it is a story about kids coming of age, banding together and finding strength in each other, and facing their fears.  The kids were quite authentic in their acting.  I believed they were a bunch of kids going through puberty, sincerely talking and joking about sex without knowing what it really is about.  They were still at the age where swimming in the quarry in their white underwear and hocking loogies over the edge is great fun but then alarmed, confused, and thrilled when the ‘bad’ girl decides to join them. My 14-year-old daughter shrieked at the jump scares, but nodded knowingly at the interactions of the children and cheered when boys and girl expressed their friendship and love for each other.

One additional point in the movie’s favor.  They updated the setting from the 60’s to the 80’s and there was a very strong ‘Stranger Things’ vibe to the show – heck one of the main characters was Mike from the popular Netflix show.   The language and the music was the same and for me, it added a good nostalgic trip.  If you liked ‘Stranger Things’, this will definitely be more the same.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed this movie and think it was one of the best I saw this summer.  Minor spoiler but Stephen King’s book was a two-part story, the kids battling Pennywise and the second part taking place twenty-seven years later when they are adults in their forties.  There will be a sequel to this movie set in the modern day and both me and my girl are looking forward to seeing it.

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