IT (2017) Reviews of Stephen King clown horror

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‘You’ll float too’
IT aka Stephen King’s IT – is a 2017 American horror feature film directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama) from a screenplay by Cary Joji Fukunaga, Chase Palmer and Gary Dauberman (IT: Chapter 2; The Nun; Annabelle: Creation), based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

In a small town in Maine, New England, seven children known as The Losers Club come face to face with life problems, bullies and a monster that takes the shape of a clown named Pennywise…

The first part of IT was released on September 8, 2017, via Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema and proved to be a smash hit, taking a whopping $700,381,748 at the box office worldwide against a reported budget of $35 million.

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Special features:

  • Pennywise Lives! – Discover how Bill Skarsgård prepared to portray the primordial creature known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
  • The Losers’ Club – Get up close and personal with the teenage stars of IT as they bond together during the production
  • Author of Fear – Stephen King reveals the roots of his best-selling novel, the nature of childhood fear and how he created his most famous monster, Pennywise
  • Deleted Scenes – Eleven deleted or extended scenes from the film

The movie’s brooding opening is impressive, with Pennywise in the sewer, coaxing the child over, then unceremoniously removing his arm and dragging him down into the depths. Andy Muschietti’s direction and Chung-hoon Chung’s cinematography are both solid and moody while delivering a certain level of coherence to an innately childish and absurd story, parts of which seem to have been swiped from H.P. Lovecraft. The sound is good; Benjamin Wallfisch’s score, too.

The winner, though, is the acting. Everyone delivered impeccable performances, the standout being a newcomer, Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays the manic hypochondriac (another repeating King trope) to a tee; a very mature acting job without a single false not; he’s the star of the film, not Pennywise.

There are many positive things about IT, the movie, although the things that aren’t positive are all Stephen King-inspired: the treacly group of turned-out kids and the maudlin bond between them, the pervasive presence of abusive parentage (as if every parent is emotionally stunted and prowling for opportunities to degrade and smother), taking a short story idea and turning it into a 500lb book, and in this case, an overlong 135-minute movie, and relying on themes that seem to have been designed to scare housewives in the 1950s.
Ben Spurling, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

” …the small flaws in It don’t take away from a remarkable genre accomplishment. A tale that both works as an adaptation and stands firmly on its own, It is one of the best horror films of the year — and might make more than a few general best-of-2017 lists. It’s a chilling, emotional, gripping and heartfelt experience.” Den of Geek!

“And lo and behold, when we deeply feel for these folks up on the screen, the horror is all the more pulse-pounding, effective and amazing. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But this kismet, this magic and this perfect combination is an almost unattainable feat. Simply – IT gets everything right.” Michael Klug, Horrorfreak News

“Muschietti’s IT is as good as big-budget horror gets. It’s shockingly brutal and twisted, going to some of the darkest places the genre has to offer. And while doing so, Muschietti creates a Losers’ Club that you can’t help falling in love with, breaking up the horror with a coming-of-age tale that lives up to King’s brilliant novel.” The Missing Reel

” …Muschietti seems content to go with the most straightforward horror tropes, opting for jump scares, whip pans and Psycho strings from composer Benjamin Wallfisch. There’s nothing wrong with a cliché if it’s executed well, and some of the practical effects are executed astonishingly well — most notably, a nuclear-level explosion of blood, acting as a brilliantly unsubtle puberty metaphor.” Empire

“With It, Muschietti has made one of the best horror movies of the year. It’s funny and warm and touching and frightening and profane and profound. It’s a terrific set-up to what is going to be a restlessly-anticipated Chapter 2. It floats. You’ll float too.” Hindustan Times

“Whilst it does go over long on the running time (stretching at 135 mins) IT somehow regains enough pace to keep things on a roll throughout and admittedly despite the few flaws, the film still has enough quality in its setting and characters to remain an engaging genre work.” UK Horror Scene

“The 135 minutes fly by, thanks to expert pacing […] It plays like a roller coaster ride; a series of exciting spikes between character moments. Certain developments come off as a tad rushed, as is often the case when condensing a novel into a feature film, but even if you disregard the source material, it feels as though some scenes were left on the cutting room floor.” Broke Horror Fan

“Even more effective than the horror elements of Argentine director Andy Muschietti’s adaptation is the unexpected humor he reveals in the story—and, ultimately, the humanity. Finding that combination of tones is such a tricky balance to pull off: the brief lightening of a tense moment with a quick quip, or an earnest monologue in the face of extreme danger. But It makes that work nearly every time, thanks to its perfectly calibrated performances from a well-chosen cast.”

“Directing with confidence and class, Muschietti deftly juggles all the characters, layers, and themes behind the novel while cranking up the jump scares to 11 and still finding room to explore the dense mythology. Despite its 80’s setting, there’s something timeless and haunting about the town of Derry, captured perfectly by cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung. It’s among the most gorgeous looking modern horror films you’ll watch…” Andrew Kasch, Dread Central

“While IT isn’t a perfect movie it still achieves horror greatness on so many levels. The flick clearly follows the same beats as Elm Street and manages to deliver equal frights all of these years later. And for the first time in a long time, someone has a made a children’s horror film that feels dangerous, which is that nostalgic sweet spot that we’re all craving right now. A timeless horror gem worthy of repeat viewing…” Bloody Disgusting

” …as spine-tingling as a number of individual scenes are, the film struggles to find a proper rhythm. Scene-to-scene transitions are static and disjointed, settling into a cycle of “…and then this happened” without deepening the overall dread or steadily uncovering pieces of a central mystery. Curiously, “It” grows less intense as it goes… Variety

“Had more attention been made towards punching up the elements of horror in this film, we might be talking about a great horror film. It is at best a mediocre attempt at recreating a great piece of horror movie magic.” Monkeys Fighting Robots

“The performances in IT are stellar from top to bottom. Skarsgård is an inspired choice as the demonic clown, and he does a brilliant job of separating this iteration of the iconic villain from Tim Curry’s version that has (rightfully) stuck with fans for nearly three decades now. The kids in the Losers’ Club are all downright wonderful, too…” Daily Dead

“Muschietti is too intent on jump scares to conjure up (one swimming scene aside) the glow or whimsy with which King leavens the horrors, and copes with the repetitive nature of what he can use of the plot by ramping up the grotesquerie even for the non-supernatural menaces. Bill Skarsgård’s rabbit-toothed, merry malevolence works best without CGI augmentation, though Pennywise is impressive when swollen to giant size.” Sight & Sound

” …this is very much a ring-the-changes update, with the ramped-up set pieces and state-of-the-art grisliness to match. Muschietti, who made his debut with the Guillermo-del-Toro-produced wraith chiller Mama (2013), makes the most of every new apparition at his disposal, unleashing them all to do their bit with stadium-rock swagger.” The Telegraph

“In addition to Skarsgard’s sinister stylings as the deranged Pennywise, the movie also extracts winning performances from a predominantly young and relatively unknown cast. This novice section of the ensemble not only excel in the torrid and tense sections of the picture but also when the situation calls for levity and light relief as well. Thanks to them, the fraught, yet immersive It experience delivers a complete and lasting rush…”

“Things pop up from the shadows right on cue. The clown cackles aplenty, mashes his awful teeth, and wiggles his eyebrows. As the kids discuss It’s legacy, ominous music sets in to underscore their tales. Repeat. Though gorgeously shot by Chung-hoon Chung, no amount of stunning visuals can rescue It from the thud of familiarity.” Indiewire


” …for the most part IT lives up to the hype. The R rating alone gives this version a major upgrade. Some will like this Pennywise, while others will still prefer the original. Either way, he’ll produce scares that the seasoned horror fan should appreciate while they enjoy watching others jump out of their seats. Most of all, the kids will have the audience eating out of their hands. The acting by the entire Losers Club should be applauded.” HorrO’s Gory Reviews

Technical details:
135 minutes | 2.39: 1 | Dolby Digital | Dolby Atmos | DTS (DTS: X)| Dolby Surround 7.1 | SDDS | Broadway Surround (RCA Sound System)


IT (2017) BILL SKARSGRD as Pennywise

Costume designer Janie Bryant (Deadwood, Mad Men) has said the following about the form-fitting suit, which incorporates clown and jester elements throughout history (Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, and Victorian eras):
“The costume definitely incorporates all these otherworldly past lives, if you will. [Pennywise] is definitely a clown from a different time. That pleating is actually Fortuny pleating, which gives it almost a crepe-like effect. It’s a different technique than what the Elizabethans would do. It’s more organic, it’s more sheer.

It has a whimsical, floppy quality to it. It’s not a direct translation of a ruff or a whisk, which were two of the collars popular during the Elizabethan period. There is almost a doll-like quality to the costume. The pants being short, the high waistline of the jacket, and the fit of the costume is a very important element. It gives the character a child-like quality.

If you look at the sleeves, there are the two puffs off the shoulder and biceps and again on the bloomers, I wanted it to have an organic, gourd or pumpkin kind of effect. It helps exaggerate certain parts of the body. The costume is very nipped in the waist and with the peplum and bloomers it has an expansive silhouette.

The pompoms are orange, and then with the trim around the cuffs and the ankles, it’s basically a ball fringe that’s a combination of orange, red, and cinnamon. It’s almost like Pennywise fades into his environment. But there are accents to pull out the definition of the gray silk. It makes him almost like a shadow.”

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Skarsgård has said:

“It’s such an extreme character. Inhumane. It’s beyond even a sociopath because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings It creates.”

He goes on to talk about his approach to the iconic character, saying, “It truly enjoys the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt. What’s funny to this evil entity might not be funny to everyone else. But he thinks it’s funny.”

Filming locations:
Bangor, Maine
Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
Pinewood Toronto Studios, Port Lands, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The images above have been taken from the source above and their source is credited. They are reproduced here in the interests of education and research. No copyright infringement is intended or implied.

Pre-release anticipation:

Within 24 hours of its debut on 29 March 2017, the first IT trailer had already racked up nearly 200 million views, breaking the previous record of 139 million views set by the trailer for The Fate of the Furious.

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