When I was young, I remember the 1990's tv movie miniseries It, being one of the first scary movies I ever saw. My dad had a VHS copy at his house, and whenever my siblings and I, or my friends and I wanted to freak ourselves out...It was always the movie of choice. As I grew older, the fear of it definitely wore off as I saw Pennywise to be a character who would mostly spout off dad jokes to scare the children. Case in point: "Is your refrigerator running?? Well, you better go catch it!" Not very scary...Plus the scenes when they were adults was pretty much the stuff of soap operas. A lot of people of my generation hold to the nostalgia of It, and see it as an untouchable film not worth remaking. "Why even bother trying to top Tim Curry's unforgettable performance" they'd say. I, on the other hand eagerly awaited and welcomed this remake with open arms, while at the same time keeping my expectations low that this film could go either way in terms of quality. After all, the remake was being helmed by Andy Muschietti, the director who gave the world Mama, an insanely creepy horror film during its first half with tons of potential that missed the mark badly in its finale.
So how did I enjoy It? Very much....but maybe not for the usual reasons I love horror movies. It actually might be stronger in the comedic and childhood bonding aspects than it is in the horror...but that's not to say that it's not effective there too. But the strongest thing the film has going for it is the cast and their natural camaraderie with one another. While a couple of the kids could maybe have used a little more development, (Mike and Stanley respectively), over all these actors totally owned their roles and were clearly having a blast playing off one another. Their language is a bit crass (they're like the kids from The Sandlot if all of them were dropping F bombs all the time.) so this definitely isn't for younger viewers like the original miniseries was. Plus, it's far scarier too. As for Bill Skarsgard's performance stepping into this iconic role, I thought he did a solid job that varied enough from Tim Curry's take to feel fresh.
After the chilling opening sequence which was shown frequently in every bit of advertising for the film, each of the children is slowly introduced to Pennywise one by one. Not all of these encounters are created equal, with some of the spooks being far more effective than others. But the longer the film goes along, the scarier things get. By the time the kids enter the creepy abandoned house, the film goes into full carnival fun house mode and the jump scares are constant.
It is an incredibly fun film that's definitely tense all throughout, but the main benefit here is that you care about the characters and their journey. While the film could have been edited a bit more tightly (it's about 15-20 minutes too long,) I can't deny that I had a really good time getting scared by a creepy clown. EMILY RATING: 8/10