Critic Consensus: Well-acted and fiendishly frightening with an emotionally affecting story at its core, It amplifies the horror in Stephen King's classic story without losing touch with its heart.
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Critic Reviews for It
I'm writing this not so much as a critic but as an ordinary moviegoer, experiencing Proustian transport via an old-fashioned scary movie executed by a team of filmmakers and actors at the top of their game.
What we're left with is a solid but relatively conventional horror movie, above average but overlong.
The movie is not terrifying but blandly edifying; its scares, foreshadowed as if by telegram, are delivered less effectively than its life lessons.
Audience Reviews for It
When it comes to horror flicks, we have seen more haunting and outrageous things in recent years. There are a few jump scares and some scenes are wonderfully unpleasant, but not without a sick little twist of humor every now and then. Pennywise works most of the time, as well. The film really soars in his portrayal of teenage friendship, though. The kid actors are all around great, making for likable yet unlikely heroes. A very entertaining King adaptation, already a smash hit that will find its deserved continuation.
The gist here is that the figure of evil is not quite so interested simply in your demise, per se, which would be one thing, but rather in how well it can scare the living daylights out of you before, er, your demise. In that regard the film succeeds quite well. Especially interesting is how the characters all have enough troubles to want to quit Maine entirely even before they meet the please-don't-come-any-closer clown, and no one would judge them. But they have a decision to make ultimately, and on that decision the film turns: to work together as a team or no, problems or no, distractions or no, and the work conveys the enormity of that choice in the wonderful language of adolescence. Good times at the movies.
'Stephen King's It' is a ghoulishly unshackled update of the Maine author's coulorophobia book and it is superlative in every facet to the 1990 television miniseries which is now pitifully antiquated and meretricious in hindsight other than Tim Curry's baritone performance. By antedating the film from 1950's milieu to the 80's, the peripheral set decoration is chockfull of 'Gremlins' posters and a facetiously arcane reference to the "Molly Ringwald" of the group. It's catnip for the yuppie generation who were reared on Street Fighter arcade games and New Kids on the Block cassettes. Although scribes Chase Palmer, (defunct director) Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman are steeped in coming-of-age King staples (the mulleted bullies, the cluelessly clodhopper parents who vicariously haunt their children via Munchausen-syndrome-by-proxy, molestation, etc.), it is more of a neoclassical and old-fashioned nod than an assortment of hoary clichés. Usually the integration of special effects into Pennywise's (Bill Skarsgård) rakish appearances would be an eyesore but instead they annex a Stygian quality to his gangly movements such as when he is a contortionist out of the Well House fridge or when his jaw unhinges into serrated fangs. Luckily, the unanimously excellent Losers' Club isn't entirely expository about the Easter explosion and the delitescent backstory to the Pennywise's 27-year gap in his cannibalistic frenzy. However, the summer-vacationers cleaning up a sink bloodbath is lackluster to the magical-realism. As a presentational exhibition, each of Skarsgård's spooky happenings is a stinger than can be jaunty (a three-door choice of either Very Scary or Not Scary At All), a cheeky background nuance (a stentorian librarian lingering behind the focal point) or frightfully subliminal like a children's show which serenades Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) to slice his father's throat with a box-cutter.
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