It's fair to say that in recent years no horror film has been anticipated quite as much as the adaptation of Stephen King's It. Since the novel's debut, and the successful 1990 TV adaptation starring Tim Curry, It has been a constant fixture in pop culture. King's legendary killer clown has continued to terrify children and adults, and so it was up to Mama's Andy Muschietti to deliver a film that was every bit as horrifying as the TV series preceding it. And based on what the critics are saying so far, it seems like that's very much the case!
Currently, the film is certified fresh and has an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 96 reviews, with the site's consensus stating:
Well-acted and fiendishly frightening with an emotionally affecting story at its core, It amplifies the horror in Stephen King's classic story without losing touch with its heart.
It seems like the critics are in love with the performance of the cast —though some are unsure of how well Skarsgard steps into Tim Curry's shoes. And while the critics loved the overall feel of the film, some did struggle with the fact that It only covered half of the novel. Here is a quick review round up of what the critics had to say about #It:
The New York Times: 'A skillful blend of nostalgic sentiment and hair-raising effects.'
Writing for the New York Times, A. O. Scott gave It a positive review, finding many similarities between the film and Stranger Things. In his review he wrote:
The new movie, a skillful blend of nostalgic sentiment and hair-raising effects, with the visual punch of big-screen digital hocus-pocus and the liberties of the R rating, still has the soothing charm of familiarity.
The Hollywood Reporter: 'Satisfying, if not quite terrifying.'
THR's John DeFore gave a positive review for the film, but claimed that it fell just short of truly horrifying.
It is a solid thriller that works best when it is most involved in its adolescent heroes' non-monster-related concerns. It will prove much more satisfying to King's legion of fans than 'Tower' did. But it falls well short of the King-derived film it clearly wants to evoke, 'Stand by Me', and newcomers who were spoiled by the eight richly developed hours of 'Stranger Things' may wonder what the big deal is supposed to be.
AV Club: 'Nightmarish imagery helps It float above a clunky script.'
AV Club's Katie Rife gave the movie a B rating, stating that the movie was good, albeit some changes made from the source material didn't quite work on the big screen.
But while Pennywise is legitimately terrifying, overall, 'It' is more intense than it is scary. No punches are pulled in depicting graphic violence against children, meaning this movie may be too much for even the most Stephen King-obsessed middle schoolers. But aside from the periodic surfacing (no pun intended) of Bill Denborough’s younger brother Georgie — whose death at the hands (or teeth, as the case may be) of Pennywise kicks off the plot — the anxiety is more brief and pummeling than slow and creeping. There are some good scares, to be sure, but when the movie shifts tones, it does so definitively.
Variety: 'Visual flair and a solid cast.'
Variety deemed the moving "fresh", stating:
Focusing entirely on the childhood-set portions of King’s book, it’s a collection of alternately terrifying, hallucinatory, and ludicrous nightmare imagery... a series of well-crafted yet decreasingly effective suspense set-pieces; and a series of well-acted coming-of-age sequences that don’t quite fully mature. 'It' looks poised to make a killing at the box office, but there’s a fundamental hollowness that haunts the film just as surely as the titular monster haunts this small town.
Rolling Stone: 3/4
Peter Travers from Rolling Stone gave it a three star rating out of four, dubbing it "the stuff of nightmares." Despite giving it a positive review, the critic summed up:
If you want to see the losers grow up in 27 years and tackle Pennywise in his next appearance, sorry – you'll have to wait for Part 2. It's a bit of cheat, to be sure. But watching kids form a bond to rain down hell on a psycho clown really does play into our communal instinct to gather at the multiplex and watch things go bump in the night. This is no modern classic, like 'The Babadook'. But It will creep you out big time.
The Telegraph: 'Stephen King's evil clown tale is no laughing matter.'
The Telegraph gave an extremely positive review with film critic Tim Robey:
But this is very much a ring-the-changes update, with the ramped-up set pieces and state-of-the-art grisliness to match. Muschietti, who made his debut with the Guillermo-del-Toro-produced wraith chiller Mama (2013), makes the most of every new apparition at his disposal, unleashing them all to do their bit with stadium-rock swagger.
USA Today: 'IT does justice to freaky horror and youthful zest of Stephen King's novel.'
USA Today's Brian Tutt gave a positive review for the film, complimenting the cast and claiming:
The infamous clown is plenty freaky, though it’s the youngsters, bursting with hormones and one-liners, who make 'It' one of the better Stephen King adaptations.
The Guardian: 'Terrifying'
The Guardian's chief film critic Peter Bradshaw didn't like the length of the film and felt that it would be better fit for a TV series.
This is an ensemble smorgasbord of scariness, or maybe a portmanteau of petrification, throwing everything but the haunted kitchen-sink at the audience in the cause of freaking us out. As creepy and horrible things keep happening to each of the kids, it almost feels like a horror anthology, a collection of scares which could be shuffled and presented in any order. In some ways, it is more suited to a TV series – such as 'Twin Peaks', maybe – and has in fact been adapted that way.
Entertainment Weekly: B Grade
Chris Nashawatay of EW liked the film, stating:
Even though Stephen King’s 'It' was written a little more than three decades ago, director Andy Muschietti’s new big-screen adaptation feels especially well-timed.
So there you have it folks, the reviews are in and it looks like It is every bit as good as it seemed! For many It is quite simply a classic, and Stephen King has deemed the book a personal favorite of his work. Lucky for us, if the reviews and Stephen King's endorsment are anything to go by, It may just prove to be one of the best things we see all year.
What do you hope to see in It? Drop me a comment below.