IT or IT: Chapter One is directed by Andy Muschietti and it is the cinematic adaptation of the very famous novel, IT written by Stephen King. This first chapter takes place in 1989, where in small-town Derry, children are being hunted by the menacing entity known as IT, which can take the form of your greatest fear and project it into real life. IT is now infatuated with The Losers’ Club, a group of friends who will bond over the trauma they will share during this haunted summer. The movie stars Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff and Bill Skarsgard.
Fun fact about me, this was my first horror movie. It was the movie that got me into horror. I’ll never forget going to see this movie. I went with a friend, he loved horror movies but was scared of clowns and I was just scared of horror movies. We were a bit late to the showing so we were rushing as fast as possible. He was catching up behind me and as soon as I arrive at the door I open it and it was the exact moment Pennywise bites Georgie’s arm off (it was actually quite funny looking back on it now). I slammed the door and waited for my friend. Once that was over, we got in and the rest was an unforgettable experience. It was truly a delight, screaming with the audience, seeing popcorn flying through the air, hear everyone mumble after a scary scene. I loved every minute of it.
From the horrifying opening moments till the touching ending, IT: Chapter One is truly a movie which grabs the audience and doesn’t let go till the credits start rolling. This movie is an instant horror classic in the sense that the movie has a unique and hypnotic identity which has never been seen before. This movie is a fresh take on the horror genre. It’s not a group of teens who die one by one until the virgin defeats or escapes the villain. IT not only focuses on character and atmosphere but it uses Pennywise’s maximum potential. While the movie may not be nightmare-inducing, it’s effective in not only how it builds up the scares with sound and lighting but also as I said, Pennywise is used a lot and it doesn’t feel tired or repetitive. The movie is very creative in how it uses It, sometimes you don’t even know it’s there because it’s in the background disguised. That’s what so scary about IT.
When it comes to story and characters, IT is paced very well and gives a lot of it’s time to the characters. The first act is all about setting up the The Losers’ Club and what they are afraid of. It almost plays out like a montage. By doing this we slowly learn more about these characters and their backgrounds. In the second act, it’s them forming the actual club, becoming friends and facing Pennywise for the first time. In the third act it’s the big confrontation between them and It. Throughout these three acts, the characters become fleshed-out and over time we become fond of them, even if not all of them got a moment to shine which will inevitably hurt the sequel.
That being said the cast is spectacular. The actors portraying the Losers’ Club are fantastic. While all of them do an amazing job with what they are given, the standouts in my opinion are Sophia Lillis and Jack Dylan Grazer. I am so happy they both got other work from this movie, they have promising careers. Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard and Jeremy Ray Taylor are also great. Wolfhard brings a lot of humour to this movie, I hope we get to see more of him in comedic roles. Jaeden Martell delivers a lot on his emotional scenes. We truly see Bill’s transformation as a character thanks to his performance. Jeremy Ray Taylor makes Ben a very likable, funny character. I would’ve like to see Wyatt Oleff and Chosen Jacobs get more opportunities to flesh out their characters. Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise is easily the best achievement this movie accomplished. Skarsgard’s performance is iconic. From the costume and appearance of Pennywise to the little things like him drooling over a kid or the fact that whenever he twists you can hear a jingle, he reinvented an already iconic character and made him arguably even more of a horror icon.
As I mentioned, IT uses the cinematic tools (score, cinematography, colour…) in a way which builds this unique and rich atmosphere which a lot of horror movies lack. The opening scene is a fantastic example of this. The ominous musical score is in the background, the dark and dull palette crashing with the striking colours of Georgie’s yellow raincoat and Pennywise’s bright red or the red from the blood leaking in the street. It’s very artistic and because of that it makes a great first impression. While the movie is great, it does have some weaker elements. Upon rewatch, only a few scares are still effective, scares like the brilliant projector scene and Pennywise coming out of the refridgerator. The movie does love to incorporate a lot of CGI in it’s scares which does take away a lot of the impact. I also didn’t care for Henry Bowers, I understand he was there to show that evil exists in humans too but he was given a bit too much story in my opinion. Other than that, IT has more than enough redeemable qualities.
Overall, IT: Chapter One truly floats like a haunted red balloon thanks to it’s unique identity. It’s rich and unique atmosphere will make the audience feel like a part of The Losers’ Club and make this trip to Derry a memorable one. When it comes to characters, The Losers’ Club truly come to life thanks to the energetic, humorous and well-acted performances. Bill Skarsgard makes one hell of an impression as Pennywise as he transforms the character into his own, an unpredictable, constantly creepy and unsettling force that looms throughout the movie. Because of these wonderful elements, I can definitely see IT become a cult classic or just classic in general entertaining people for far more than 27 years.