Release Date: September 8, 2017
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis
Rating: 3.5/4 stars
If you haven’t seen IT by now, you more or less know what IT is. After breaking box office records in 2017, IT became one of the more popular and profitable outings that year; as you can imagine, IT Chapter Two is expected to not only match, but outdo its predecessor in the weeks and months ahead as droves of anticipated moviegoers return to the cursed town of Derry, Maine, a staple of Stephen King horror. And there’s a reason why: IT is a damn fine film.
Right from the beginning, we descend through steady rain down into a room occupied by two young brothers. The younger of the two, Georgie, is restless and desperate to escape boredom while the older, Ben, works meticulously on a waterproof paper boat for Georgie to send off through flash-flooded neighborhood streets. Dressed in a bright, yellow rain slicker, Georgie goes on an outdoor trek in the pouring rain unaware of the danger that awaits and lurks in the shadows. Much like Jaws did in causing hesitation to dive deep into murky, beach waters, the encounter that follows between child and beast at a sewer drain will have you thinking twice before setting foot nearby.
A year later, and with Bill struggling to accept the reality of loss, an assembly of misunderstood social outcasts form The Loser’s Club. We meet Beverly, the only female in the group, as she fights to protect herself from cruel abuse both at school and at home. Germaphobe and reluctant momma’s boy, Eddie, struggles against the fear of catastrophe near every and any corner while a quiet and romantic old soul of a kid, Ben, attempts to find his place in a new town. The list goes on and on, and each character we come to meet has a whole story of their own with fears to be preyed upon in wholly unique and visually gut-wrenching style. Little is left to the imagination as sequences drenched and dressed in blood and gore fill the frame in unsettling and horrific ways.
Bill Skarsgard’s take as Pennywise is unabashedly absurd, creepy and deadly as subtle nuances pepper his performance. Take for instance the manic surprise and delight displayed as he lures in his victims, or the dead stares in mid conversation with eyes drifting outside of their normal plain of view. Much to author Stephen King for his creation, Skarsgard breathes life into the character with great terror as he propels the titular creature to classic cinematic villainy.
To relegate IT as a horror movie does disservice to the genre-blending mastery at play. Part horror, part adventure, and part coming of age, IT transcends genres entirely as it echoes familiar and beloved adventure thrills of the 80s like The Goonies, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Stand By Me, and Gremlins. It is surprisingly funny and full of charm with several moments of incredibly sharp and hilarious banter exchanged back and forth between the youth at hand. These are real kids facing real challenges and danger, and their credibility succeeds thanks to great writing and an incredibly wonderful ensemble of actors we can genuinely care and root.
Well-paced and packed with enough spectacle to run a train off its tracks, IT shines with bursting energy and action. Filled to the brim with chills and thrills, IT not only caters to our sense of fear and curiosity, but thoroughly entertains. Whether IT keeps you up at night or not, it’s a film that has planted itself so deeply in the pop cultural landscape that it’ll be talked about and referenced for years and years to come. Mind your red balloons and beware the glare, or you may float, too.
IT (2017) is rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.