First off, the movie is set in the 80’s, which for me, works. However, I will say this, it gave me a heavy Stranger Things vibe. Mainly because Finn Wolfhard was in it and played the part of Richie Tozier. Plus, on top of that, the town of Derry looked a lot like the town of Hawkins. On the surface, Derry feels like any sleepy town; however, there’s something floating in the background, something that wakes every few decades to feed. I’ve always loved the concept of It and what it does. Speaking of background, this is a movie to pay close attention to the background. There are small things going on that add to the depth and flavor of the movie. For example, keep an eye on the television when Beverly walks through her house. Another great background Easter egg what the name of the pharmacist. In the original made-for-tv movie, the pharmacist's name was Koontz, a nod to Dean Koontz. In this new version, his name is Keene, a nod to Brian Keene, a modern horror author.
There was a part in the movie where the background was creepy as hell, and I have no idea if it was intentional or not. It’s when Ben is in the library, shortly after the librarian gives him a book on the town’s history and tells him he should be outside playing. As he’s looking at the book, the camera pans out so you can see him reading, and it looks like the librarian or someone similar is standing the background grinning at Ben. Watch it and let me know what you think.
I thought that Muschietti did an excellent job with the feel of this iteration of It. The movie gave a nod to the original adaptation while still having its own vibe. There were also times that felt almost like a nod to the Evil Dead franchise, especially the scene with Beverly in the bathroom and with the leper attacking Eddie.
Another great part of the movie (as pointed out by my lovely wife), was the layering of real monsters vs. supernatural monsters. For example, Beverly’s dad and Eddie’s mother are both prime examples of real monsters, people who abuse their children. There are some moments in this film where they are way scarier than Pennywise. The bullies are also frightening, mainly due to the fact that they have been left unchecked (apparently by the power that Pennywise has over the town, making people ignore or look the other way at the bad things happening). Generally, bullies will scare or rough someone up, but I tend to believe that the majority of them would stop short at trying to actually kill someone.
I also liked how Pennywise did his best to separate the kids whenever they were together. I won’t get into details, but it shows how together they were strong, but separate they were easy prey.
The movie had faults though. I thought the editing near the end fell short. At one point one of the kids is suddenly in a different part of the sewers. There was no lead up to it, nor any explanation. A simple edit showing It leading him away would have sufficed.
There was another point in the movie where the kids find the shoe of a missing girl in the sewer…THEN NOTHING EVER COMES FROM THAT! It bugged me for the rest of the film. I mean, it would have been neat to see them take the shoe to the police, and then have the police (obviously under the influence of Pennywise) wave it off like it was nothing, or that they didn’t believe them. It would have added another layer as well as closed that loop.
Another fault was some bad CGI in the beginning of the movie. The opening scene with Georgie is way more brutal than in the made-for-tv show, but part of it was destroyed when Pennywise opens his mouth and his teeth grow. It didn’t look finished and took me out of the story.
This leads me into another point, seeing the monster. In this movie, and story, we see Pennywise almost right off the bat. On one hand, I suppose it takes away some of the fear of the monster. Monster movies in general work better when the viewer never gets a full view of the creature, as we tend to fill in the blanks ourselves and fear of the unknown is powerful. On the other hand, this isn’t a traditional monster movie, and we need to see Pennywise. I did miss Tim Curry playing Pennywise; however, Bill Skarsgard does an excellent job bringing the dancing clown to life. He did great with the movements and general attitude.
Now, on to the spoiler parts…only go forward if you don’t care, or if you’ve seen the movie. You’ve been warned.
That’s about it for spoilers, go see the movie. I can’t wait for the next one.