2017 has been a fantastic year for horror movies.
After “Get Out” and “Annabelle: Creation” comes the utterly terrifying remake of “It.” What makes this latest film particularly noteworthy is that it is the scariest movie of the year so far.
When children begin to go missing in the small, sleepy town of Derry, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher, “Masters of Sex”) and his group of misfit friends attempt to find and stop the source of the disappearances. Thus brings the wrath of the murderous clown Pennywise the Dancer (Bill Skarsgard, “Hemlock Grove”), who begins to torture the kids in horrifying ways.
With an R-rating, “It” isn’t held back by any unnecessary need to censor, and the movie takes every inch and mile. It’s violent and vulgar, but never off-putting. There are some shockingly visceral scares this movie gleefully throws out.
Unfortunately, not every attempt to be unnerving hits its mark. Either hindered by bad CGI or just silly concepts, “It” does contain scenes that didn’t have the effect the filmmakers were going for. These moments are few and far between but they still happen and are problematic for the film.
Interestingly enough, the most frightening aspect of the film isn’t Pennywise at all. The true terror of “It” lies in the small town of Derry, specifically with the passive adults who turn a blind eye to the horrors that befall the town every 27 years.
The movie takes a surprisingly insightful and meaningful approach to the effect of child abuse. The kids all experience their own disgusting form of abuse; be it mental, verbal, physical, or sexual. “It” isn’t afraid to depict some serious, real-life issues and it does so with a self-aware tone that is greatly appreciated.
Another delightful surprise is how funny the film actually is. There are dozens of great lines peppered evenly into the movie, and every single one is appreciated. When it’s clear the sex jokes begin to get slightly tiresome, the movie skillfully switches the direction of the jokes, making the humor fresh throughout.
Most importantly, it’s nice to see a remake that pays homage to the original, while improving on it in almost every capacity. Of all the changes, the removal of the adult portion of the 1990 made-for-TV mini-series was the best decision for the film, because that was by far the worst part of the horror classic.
Unfortunately, some of the directions the story took are problematic. The romance was infuriating because the film resorts to the classic “main character has to get with the girl” cliché, rather than going with the actual great romantic couple.
It’s also disappointing that the African American character, Mike Hanlon, (Chosen Jacobs, “Hawaii 5-0”) did not get the character development and focus he deserved. He’s mostly tossed into the background and it is sad to see a character of color receive the least amount of screen time, especially when he may be the most compelling character in the film.
Ultimately, despite a few relatively minor issues, “It” is fantastic and a great callback to an awesome time in pop culture. If you think you’ve got the guts to see this movie, I highly recommend you do.