While everybody has been jumping up and down losing their minds over It ever since it was first announced, I've been hesitant. In every trailer I've seen, while it looks beautifully shot and masterfully directed, the horror has consistently relied heavily on jump scares, and I think jump scares are a major issue in horror movies today. It's a cheap gimmick used to get a quick, superficial scare out of the audience because the filmmakers don't know how to create genuine terror on screen. Now, I have been more optimistic than pessimistic concerning It, but I've still been reserved. That is, until the reviews came out and everyone was raving about it! Since then, I've thrown my concerns out the window, and I've been just as giddy and excited as everyone else has been. I usually try not to jump on the hype train, but this was too hard to resist. So I went into It with mammoth expectations, looking for a horror movie that really transcends its genre, and it pretty much did that. It is a really good movie with great performances, but some of its pacing issues just keep it from being one of the best films of the year. 

A group of kids take on a terrifying monster clown called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), who feeds individually on the kids' own fears. 

The performances across the board are incredible. The chemistry between all the members of the Losers' Club was staggering. Their interactions felt so authentic and genuine, that it instantly became the best part of the movie. These kids are the heart and soul of the film, and they make it what it is. Yes, Pennywise is f*cking terrifying, but it's the kids that take this movie to the next level. Jaeden Lieberher showed a new side to him that I hadn't seen before, and was phenomenal as the movie's lead. Jack Dylan Grazer had some of the best lines of the movie, and his character became one of my favorites. Something I wasn't expecting from this movie was just how funny it was going to be. There are a lot of jokes that absolutely land, and it's because of the delivery from actors like Grazer and Finn Wolfhard. The two of them together were comedic gold, and their back-and-forth made for some hilarious parts. And comedy like this in a horror movie could easily have detracted from the terror of what was happening, but director Andy Muschietti knew how to mesh the two drastically different tones together in order to get a product that ultimately works. Muschietti's direction is another strong aspect about this movie that cannot go unmentioned. It's because of Muschietti that It doesn't feel like a stereotypical horror movie. He crafts a great story that really elevates the movie towards being something more. 

Something I appreciated about this movie is that it took its time. That may sound like a contradiction to something I'll say later, but I'll explain what I mean. Most horror movies think that if they don't have some sort of scare every five seconds that the audience get up and leave the theater. This prevents horror movies from being able to develop their characters or set the mood, as they feel like they have to constantly barrage you with cheap jump scares. It is one of the few modern horror movies that takes the time to develop and flesh out its characters. Each and every kid in the Losers' Club felt like a real, three dimensional person because we spent time with them. They weren't just plot devices or chess pieces to use simply to scare the audience with; they were genuine characters that we experienced this traumatic ordeal with. Muschietti understands that the characters are the audience's gateway into the horror, and he capitalizes on it. The cinematography is also sweeping and beautiful. One thing you don't typically see in modern day horror movies is well thought out shots, but It undoubtedly has them. You can tell a lot of thought and preparation went into how to capture certain scenes, and the different camera techniques used certainly elevated the level of terror prevalent.

Unfortunately, I think this movie has some pacing issues that kept it from being one of my favorites of the year. The first half of the movie is incredibly slow. Yes, the slower scenes focused on developing the characters were excellent, but this first half as a whole was slow because it didn't progress the story. While we got to know the characters, the story was stagnant, and didn't begin to progress until about halfway through the movie. Twenty minutes dedicated to putting all the pieces in place so that you can then tell your story is expected, but when it becomes about an hour, that's when you start to lose your audience. I was beginning to get irritated that the story wasn't picking up. All we were seeing were scenes of these kids hanging out intercut with them being scared by something. The ideas weren't the issue; it was the fact that this took up all of the first act and half of the second act, and the movie took an hour to move on from this. This movie could've been shorter and it would have packed a lot more of a punch. And the pacing goes hand-in-hand with this issue. I appreciated that the movie was slow and that it took its time to develop its characters. I just think it took too much time. So had maybe ten to fifteen minutes been shaven off, it would have been a lot leaner, and its slowness would have added more to the story than it detracted. 

Overall, It is a fantastically acted, well directed film that suffers from some length and pacing issues. The kids and their chemistry are what makes this movie. They all turn in fantastic performances, and I truly believed they were all best friends. There was a surprising amount of comedy in the film, and I thought it was excellently executed. It's easy to forget just how good Bill Skarsgård is in this movie, as he is phenomenal. Pennywise as a character easily could have gone south, but it's because of Skarsgård's performance that he's as terrifying as he is. However, I do wish he was in a little more of the movie than he actually was. I'm glad that this movie took its time to develop the characters, though I think it ended up taking too much time. The story never progressed for the first half of the movie, which began to get irritating. Luckily, the events of the third act made up for it. The craft behind this movie, from Andy Muschietti's direction to Chung-hoon Chung's cinematography, was incredible. The production design made this feel like an above average horror movie, and the great story reinforced that. In the end, It is definitely worth seeing. However, I think it took a little too long to get into the meat of the story, and thus it didn't quite reach the heights I was hoping for. But that does not take away from just how good of a movie It is. 


What do you think? Have you seen It? Did you like the film? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nate
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