Can 'It' Save Hollywood?

If Stephen King's It has a record-breaking opening weekend, it might help erase the memory of Hollywood's dismal summer. But is the movie good enough to pull it off? Check out The Atlantic's review below.

Via The Atlantic.

Every 27 years it rises again to stalk the countryside and bring terror to children. I refer, of course, to Pennywise, the diabolical kid-eating clown first made famous in Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel, It. But I also refer to It itself, which was last seen as a two-part miniseries in 1990 and has now returned as a feature film by the Argentine director Andy Muschietti, best known for his 2013 movie Mama.

I recently revisited the old miniseries and found it to be a Spielberg-y throwback to the vibes of 1980s cinema—a bit like last year’s Netflix thriller Stranger Things. The difference, of course, is that Stranger Things, which returns for a second season next month, is consciously (and brilliantly) aping all those old ’80s tropes. The It miniseries, by contrast, couldn’t help but embody them: It did, after all, feature both John Ritter and Harry Anderson in central roles.

Unlike the miniseries, Muschietti’s film has opted to tell only half of King’s sprawling novel. That story began in 1957 in the town of Derry, Maine, with the murder of a young boy, Georgie Denbrough. Georgie’s preteen brother Bill, along with a group of fellow misfits who dub themselves the Losers Club, uncovered that Georgie’s death, and others, had taken place at the hands of Pennywise, an ageless and shape-shifting force of evil with a particular fondness for circuswear. The kids defeated the demon and pledged that if it ever returned they would come back to Derry to stop it again. The latter part of the novel took place in 1984, when Pennywise did in fact make his cicada-like reappearance and faced his final destruction at the hands of the now-40ish Losers.

Muschietti’s movie tells only the first “chapter” of the saga—there are plans for a sequel that will tell the second one—and he has moved the action forward to take place in 1988 and 1989. The odd result is that this telling, too, feels eerily like Stranger Things, albeit with considerably more gore splashed around: the same campy-creepy decade; the same premise about kids trying to solve a paranormal mystery; even the protagonists’ same underlying (and, as a child of the ’80s, I can confirm entirely accurate) philosophy of action: When in doubt, jump on your bike and ride somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t help at all—indeed, it exacerbates the disorienting but inevitable comparisons—that Finn Wolfhard, who plays one of the Losers in It, is also one of the child-protagonists of Stranger Things. (Muschietti has explained that this is entirely a coincidence; he did not see Stranger Things, which aired while he was in the middle of production, until after completing his film.)

The story, as any fan of the book or miniseries could tell you, begins with the most ill-fated paper boat in all of cinema. A rainstorm is sweeping Derry, and young Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), though too ill to go outside himself, carefully folds a construction-paper boat for little brother Georgie to play with. The latter delights in chasing the boat down the overflowing curb-streams of the neighborhood until it slips down a storm drain. There awaits Pennywise, who proceeds to bite off the boy’s arm before dragging him into the sewer. Poor Georgie. We scarcely knew you.

And so it begins. Pennywise starts haunting Bill and the other Losers (played by Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff, and Jack Dylan Grazer) by appearing as the embodiments of their darkest fears: an eruption of blood from a bathroom sink, a painting come to life, a club-footed leper. These hauntings eventually lead the gang to a creepy old abandoned house that sits atop a well to the sewers—a perfect horror twofer if ever there was one.

Read the rest of this review at The Atlantic.

Are you going to see It this weekend? Have you already seen it? What did you think? Let us know in the comment section below.