Review: Is ‘IT’ still scary?

By David Guerrero


After 27 years, Pennywise is back on the screen, and scarier than ever.

The new “IT” movie has hit theaters, and was greeted with a packed house. The new film is the next in a long line of Stephen King adaptations this year, and so far it is one of the best.

A no-spoiler summary: while the original “IT” was a mini-series shown on television following the characters throughout their lives, this new movie focuses solely on their lives as children.

The group of kids form a friendship while dealing with their own problems, on top of a killer clown out to kill them.

Some might question if this movie will be tolerable because the age of the main cast ranges from 14 to 16 years old.

The kids playing these characters are the best part of the movie.

Viewers can expect the jump scares and gore, but the chemistry between the kids was unexpected. All seven act as if they have known each other for years and their acting alone makes the film worth viewing.

These kids give actors twice their age a run for their money, especially Finn Wolfhard from “Stranger Things” who plays the complete opposite of his quiet and reserved character in the Netflix series.

Director Andy Mushietti, whose only other major hit was the 2013 horror film, “Mama,” clearly has a good career ahead of him.

The film is well-shot, and is unlike the usual horror movies that shake the camera in an attempt to scare the audience.

While the horror leans heavily on jump scares and loud musical strings, it works for this kind of movie, and especially with the actor behind the clown face.

Bill Skarsgard, who plays It, brings a creepier factor than the original portrayal done by Tim Curry.

The makeup is scarier, his dialogue is intimidating, and whenever the camera is on him, a sense of unease immediately sets in. On top of that, look out for his eyes if you are brave enough to stare at the screen when he has a close-up.

His eyes will creepily stare off in opposite directions and it is sometimes scarier than Pennywise himself.

I am not certain, but I hope it is something natural the actor can do, instead of being done by special effects. Either way, it adds to an already terrifying performance.

Besides Wolfhard, I would say the second-best actors among them are a tie between Jaeden Lieberher and Sophia Lillis, who play Bill and Beverly, respectively.

Bill, among the other main characters, is given the most screen time.

He gives an honest performance throughout the whole film, from showing sadness and heartbreak over his brother dying — spoiler, but it’s in the trailer — to giving an inspirational speech to his friends.

Sophia does the same, but is able to go one step further by having to act as the only girl among the group of guys. Her character deals with the most abuse from her family. And she is able to act circles around her peers. And like I said earlier, even around older actresses.

All seven kids were phenomenal, and I hope their careers skyrocket after this movie. We can already expect great things from Wolfhard with the second season of “Stranger Things” coming to Netflix soon.

Before I give my final rating, I want to warn the readers about potential triggers.

As I said, the character of Beverly goes through the most emotional and physical abuse of the main cast, especially from her father, and it may be unsettling to some viewers. There is also, of course, heavy violence and gore, especially inflicted on children.

The film definitely earns its “R” rating in the first 10 minutes when Pennywise claims his first victim, hinted at in all of the trailers. The movie is not for the faint of heart, but is worth a theater watch for fans of the original “IT” and fans of horror movies.

Stephen King fans will also appreciate the director for his faithfulness to the book, knowing just what to cut and what to include from the source material.

So, as the great American film critic Roger Ebert once graded movies, I give this film 3½ stars out of 4. Bring your own Loser Club to watch, and be scared, together.


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