The reviews for the highly-anticipated remake of Stephen King’s work, IT, are starting to trickle in on the eve before the film opens wide to the general public.
When the trailer was first released back in March, IT generated 197 million views globally in 24 hours — topping the previous record of 139 million set by The Fate of the Furious in December. Those numbers would increase to 246 million views in 36 hours.
As we’re all well aware, fan enthusiasm alone doesn’t necessarily mean a film will be any good.
However, the aforementioned reviews piling up on Rotten Tomatoes (currently tracking at 88 percent) suggests that director Andy Muschietti’s vision is not only scary, but also inventive and packed full of 1980’s nostalgia which makes The Loser Club feel like fully formed characters rather than simply targets of a demented clown.
For those still on the fence that this is just another Hollywood retread, we’ve compiled several reviews which highlight different facets of the film.
One of the best Stephen King adapations
IT is among the best and scariest film adaptations of his work. King has a genius for creating appealing characters whom he subjects to appalling situations. In translating his sensibility to the screen, the trick is to tap into the horror without sacrificing the human element, and director Andy Muschietti mostly gets that right.
‘Stand by Me’ comparisons
Tonally, IT feels like a throwback to great King adaptations of yore—particularly Stand By Me with its ragtag band of kids on a morbid adventure, affecting bravado and affectionately hassling each other to mask their true jitters. Wolfhard in particular has great comic timing as the profane Richie. Technically, Muschietti shows some glimmers of early Spielberg, too—the low camera angles, the images of kids on bikes pedaling furiously in a pack, the overall mix of wonder and danger.
IT is essentially two movies. The better by far (and it’s very good) is the one that feels like a darker Stand by Me.
Horror for the modern generation
Call it a symphony of orchestral meta-horror, an elaborate waking nightmare in which you, as the dreamer, are constantly reminded of what the film is trying to do, and yet are powerless to stop it.
Great child actors
For all its shocking imagery, IT is more successful as a coming-of-age story—aided by a talented cast of unknowns—with the monster serving as a stand-in for our collective loss of innocence.
When a film of this magnitude has so many young characters front and center in the lead roles, so much depends on the casting — and in this case, there’s not a single misstep.
The pain of youth
The new version of King’s classic demonic clown story delivers two of the author’s signature pleasures — an emotional re-creation of those beleaguered years of childhood, when it was us-against-the-adults, and a truly visceral sense of horror.
It is a white-knuckle horror show blessed with an R rating, by which I mean it doesn’t have to rein in its gory, toothy terrors, like other, lesser, PG-13-rated King films must.
Pennywise is effective
Skarsgård’s performance builds on Tim Curry’s in the 1990 miniseries version of IT, delivering dialogue in an unnervingly lisping, clipped tone best described as a cartoon rabbit before abruptly dropping a couple of octaves to a guttural growl. His physical performance, meanwhile, is all limbs jutting out in odd directions and jerky, unnatural movements, which are occasionally sped up to maximize the menace. Also digitally enhanced, and really freaky, are his rows upon rows of teeth, reminiscent of some unspeakable alien creature pulled from the depths of the Mariana Trench.
IT belongs in the same tradition of small-town terror as Wes Craven’s Nightmare franchise, though the question of influence has a certain chicken-and-egg quality. Pennywise the clown, the designated predator in IT is, like Freddy Krueger, an avatar of deep childhood fears. And like Freddy, he’s also the literal, lethal manifestation of the evil of the world. As such, he has the potential to spawn endless sequels. He’ll be back.