I saw IT at the first available opportunity – its midnight launch – but I’ve held out on writing my thoughts for a few days because I’ve been anticipating this movie for so long and with such tenacity that I really needed time to process my reaction to its many layers of artistic mastery.
My relationship with this movie didn’t start when the WB and New Line Cinema logos faded in; it started when this project was first announced years ago. And with every reveal of footage, casting choice, or on-set photography, my anticipation had skyrocketed. And my first reaction is that this anticipation has been met. I loved the design of pennywise, and his acting seemed spot on, the director choice was good, but even I couldn’t have conceived of how good this movie is.
Let’s take it back to those opening logos. I’m a sucker for customised opening logos, I’ve got to say; when you see the Harry Potter logos deteriorate over the eight movies, they really usher in the mood of the new movie in such a simple but effective way; even in The Dark Knight with their cold-blue tinge and tense music, it makes a huge difference to the tone. And when IT’s opening logos rolled, surrounded by rain so thick you could see little else in the dark of night, and a little red balloon floats across the screen, I knew I was in for the treat of my life, because you rarely see that level of attention to detail in movies that aren’t incredible pieces of art, which is what IT is, if that wasn’t already abundantly clear.
I’ll discuss Pennywise first because a lot of the movie’s success rested on its (I’m not sure Pennywise has a gender) character design and thespian execution. And neither, in my opinion, could have been better. Pennywise is uncanny, terrifying, and eerily charming. He has a sort of Milton’s devil-esque demeanour once it’s been dragged through the dirt, as Pennywise supposedly came to earth. If Pennywise doesn’t terrify you throughout this movie, you’re lying to yourself and you should probably see a shrink. Bill Skarsgard’s acting was exceptional and his voice was perfect. Complete with some exceptional composition and lighting, and an incredible score, the darkest recesses of my unconscious could conjure little more terrifying than Pennywise’s presence.
After Pennywise’s execution, director Andy Muscietti went on to tick more boxes with the remaining casting, an exceptional script and score, but what really shines behind the success of this movie, is its expert story. And of course a lot of credit is due to Stephen King for his equally great novel, but I’ve seen so many bad King adaptations that you can never bank on this. But it does serve as a reminder that horror movies need good stories to truly succeed, and not just artistically, too, as IT’s topping box offices across the globe.
I was particularly impressed by other manifestations of IT, not to spoil too much, but their connection to characterisation was excellently done, and further emphasised the horror of reality. A couple of them for me were as frightening as Pennywise itself. I was a little torn on the CGI at first, but on re-watching the scenes, I found it to be fine; its disconnection from the rest of the movie serves Pennywise’s comic, otherworldly terror.
Once the movies got going, its real success lay with its ending as I knew the plot well from the novel, and I was very impressed with the climax. It necessarily strayed from King’s somewhat, but it fit well with the tone of the rest of the film.
So, there you have it. IT was incredible, and has really raised the bar for horror movies going forward. I can’t wait to see what they do with its sequel, and future Stephen King movies, too.