Grossing nearly $120M in its opening weekend, which is unheard of for an R-rated horror movie, 'It' is based on the acclaimed novel by Stephen King released in 1986. There was a three-hour long TV miniseries produced in 1990 starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, which effectively gave an entire generation of kids nightmares. However looking back on that adaptation, it's easy to see that it hasn't aged particularly well, and so in my opinion, 'It' was ripe for a remake.
Set in the fictionalized Derry, Maine, the 2017 adaptation takes place in the late 80's rather than the 50's as in the novel and miniseries. Director Andy Muschietti decides to focus solely on the seven kids, a ragtag group of bullied children dubbed the Losers' Club, who are terrorized by a shape-shifting monster of sorts that manifests as each of the children's worst fears- occassionally taking the appearance of a terrifying clown, portrayed here by Bill Skarsgard. Set up as the first chapter of a planned duology, the other big change from previous versions of this story is the choice to not flash back and forth between time periods- so rather than cut from the present to the past with different actors portraying the same characters, 'IT' is dedicated to the kids and their struggle defeating the evil being that's been taking the children of Derry one by one.
Starring a fresh-faced cast of young and talented actors, 'It' is by far one of the best Stephen King adaptations of the last twenty years. I honestly can't remember the last movie I saw with this young of a cast that works as well as it does. Each of the child actors feel real and have tremendous chemistry among one another. You believe that they're all friends and they feel like actual 12-year-olds thrust into horrifying situations.
Bill Skarsgard, as Pennywise, is wonderfully deranged. The character's creepy appearance and measured line delivery is very different from Tim Curry's performance, and stands on its own as one of the more memorable horror villains of recent memory. 'It' is filled with haunting and disturbing imagery and atmosphere that creates a sort of haunted house theme park ride of an experience. Rather than rely heavily on jump scares or gore, this two-hour and fifteen minute fright-fest is a story deeply rooted in character above all else. Unlike many horror films today, which has the audience rooting for characters to get knocked off one by one as soon as possible, 'It' takes its time setting up these characters so the audience genuinely cares for them.
While there is a bit too much computer generated effects for my taste and just a couple of moments that are slightly more silly than horrifying, 'It' is one of the most fun horror movies I've seen in a very long time. It's exciting, emotional, and far funnier than I expected. While it's not quite on par with King's best adaptations like 'The Shawshank Redemption' or 'Stand By Me,' as far as horror movies with creepy clowns go, 'It' is as good as it gets. I give 'It' an A-.