Review Roundup: Did the Critics Think Stephen King's IT had 'it?'
Another day, another Stephen King adaptation. This time, it is for King's thriller IT, which follows a band of kids in the 80s as they face the terrifying clown of their nightmares, Pennywise.
This is not the first time IT is being adapted for the media. After it was published in 1986, it was adapted for television in 1990. Now an R-rated film, the movie, and its director Andrés Muschietti, are ready to scare audiences around the world.
The critics have a general consensus that IT is terrifyingly good, but the film fails to delve deeper into the young characters like a coming-of-age film would. Most critics also noticed the obvious parallel to the hit Netflix show STRANGER THINGS and wished for more originality.
Want to read more of what the critics thought of IT? Check out some of the reviews below!
A.O. Scott, The New York Times: 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 gang of misfit '80s kids who face down the clown and the deeper horror he represents evoke both the middle school posse of the recent TV series STRANGER THINGS (there's some overlap in the cast), but also the intrepid brotherhood from STAND BY ME surely one of the all-time top five Stephen King movie adaptations.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: Like the Freddy films, IT doesn't shy away from nastiness and definitely earns its R rating. There's implied incest, bullying in the extreme, and children are violently attacked. But that raises the question: Who exactly is IT for? Its heroes, like its audience, are kids. What responsible parent will buy their tickets? B.
Andrew Barker, Variety: But as spine-tingling as a number of individual scenes are, the film struggles to find a proper rhythm. Scene-to-scene transitions are static and disjointed, settling into a cycle of "...and then this happened" without deepening the overall dread or steadily uncovering pieces of a central mystery. Curiously, IT grows less intense as it goes, handicapped by an inability to take in the scope of Derry as a town defined by its buried traumas and secrets, let alone really plumbing the primal depths of fear that It itself represents. As Pennywise, Skarsgard is largely tasked with providing a canvas for the film's visual effects, and he never manages to cast as long a shadow as Tim Curry did with the character in the 1990 TV miniseries.<
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter: 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 THE DARK 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.
Hillary Busis, Vanity Fair: Often, thanks to its strong cast and quieter moments, IT succeeds in this goal-but there'd be a lot more time for character development if the film didn't feature quite so many long, frenetic scenes of animated mayhem. As a seminal entry in the analog "kids on a bike" genre, King's IT successfully married real terror (and a magic turtle!) with a lovely meditation on innocence lost. The new IT almost makes you wish for a story that ditched the clown for a less literal metaphor.
Sara Stewart, New York Post: If you're one of Stephen King's "constant readers," as he calls us, you'll know the horror master is prone to luring you in with supernatural scares, then revealing his human characters to be equally capable of rank monstrousness. This adaptation of one of his fattest novels succeeds admirably on that score, even if its overt BOOGEYMEN come up a bit short...In a slightly ironic twist, you may walk out feeling IT was a good-enough imitation of STRANGER THINGS - the Netflix show whose creators, the Duffer brothers, made after Warner Brothers wouldn't give them a shot at this movie. Kudos on that last laugh, Duffers.
Tasha Robinson, The Verge: After a while, there's just too much monster charging mindlessly at the screen, and not enough time to process the characters' reactions, or to distinguish one curiously failed attack from the next. But IT has two major saving graces: (Director Andrés) Muschietti's eye for striking images is one of the film's core assets, and his ghost story MAMA often comes to mind throughout IT. Unlike most monster movies, which withhold their central critters until the end to build up suspense and mystery, Muschietti put MAMA's monster on-screen early, and trained viewers to fear her for her unsettling eeriness and malice. He does the same with Pennywise, leaving any sense of mystery and dread out of the film, but replacing it with sharp shocks and Uncanny Valley creepiness.