IT Reviews: See What Critics Are Saying About the New Stephen King Adaptation

Is it scary? Is it Funny? How is Pennywise? Are there any major problems?

by | September 6, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

The reviews for It have finally arrived, just a couple days ahead of the movie’s release. But don’t let the late timing of their publication signal anything wrong. Just as the initial social media buzz on the Stephen King adaptation was positive, so are most of the full critiques, only now with some reservations. To start, It currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91%.

The film follows the story of a group of pre-teens who face off against an evil, child-murdering entity taking the form of a clown named Pennywise. The highly anticipated movie is reportedly sufficiently scary and does the original novel justice as a drama, too. It’s sure to be a hit and earn a sequel that brings the rest of the book to the big screen.

Here’s what critics are saying about the movie in reviews:

Is It Scary?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt the most blood-curdling film of the year.
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

As a well-crafted scarefest, it’s satisfying and exhausting in equal measure.
James Hennessy, 4:3

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.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

It is more intense than it is chilling… there are some good scares, to be sure, but when the movie shifts tones, it does so definitively.
Katie Rife, AV Club

It’s power to scare, ultimately, is not as strong as its power to evoke the joys, confusions and fears of childhood, or its power to leave you wanting more.
John Nugent, Empire

How Is It Generally As A Horror Movie?

Vibrant, confident, and overflowing with a surprising amount of emotion, It is almost everything you could want from a modern horror film.
Matt Goldberg, Collider

One of the best, most exciting, thrilling, heart-filled horror titles that we’ve seen in recent years.
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend

Delivers plenty of ultra-serious and strikingly crafted horror hijinks to feast on.
Matthew Pejkovic, Matt’s Movie Reviews

For the first time in a long time, someone has a made a children’s horror film that feels dangerous… timeless horror gem worthy of repeat viewing, It is an instant Halloween classic that will haunt audiences for years to come.
Brad Miska, Bloody Disgusting

Not only one of the best horror films in years, it clearly stands as one of the best films of 2017.
Clayton Davis, Awards Circuit

How Does It Compare to Other Stephen King Adaptations?

It may not be the best Stephen King movie (even though it comes impressively close), but it’s probably the MOST Stephen King movie.
William Bibbiani, IGN

Among a couple of the best Stephen King adaptations to make its way to the big screen.
Jim Slotek, Original Cin

Faithful to the book’s overall mood while diverging from its particulars, and King fans will surely appreciate the clear effort and affection that went into this adaptation, even as it struggles to become more than the sum of its parts.
Andrew Barker, Variety

Is It Funny?

With plenty of gallows humor, as well as kid banter and inside jokes, It boasts a clever sense of humor.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

How Is Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise?

Skarsgard is icily menacing, the character’s evil eyes freezing the audience in its tracks. Mostly appearing as a creepy clown, Skarsgård taps into the disturbing juxtaposition of frivolity and derangement that many people associate with this common children’s entertainer. With the aid of makeup and special effects, the actor’s nerve-wracking stillness allows Pennywise to rightly assume his place among cinema’s memorable horror villains; even more appropriate as the film takes place during the late 1980s, when icons such as Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees were haunting cinemas.
Tim Grierson, Screen International

Played to delirious, bizarre perfection by Bill Skarsgard. It’s impossible to best Tim Curry’s performance in the 1991 It TV miniseries, and Skarsgard doesn’t even try…like Heath Ledger did with the Joker (but not that good), Skarsgard finds a new approach to playing a villain made iconic by another actor, and it works surprisingly well.
Britt Hayes, ScreenCrush

It’s a tremendous, unsettling and skillful performance, melding Heath Ledger’s Joker with something straight out of the mouth of hell.
Don Kaye, Den of Geek

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

How Is the Losers Club Handled?

Though the film is satisfyingly scary, it’s the kids who really steal the show here. Evoking childhood favorites like Stand By Me or Now and Then, the Losers Club is filled with characters who feel so real it makes your heart ache.
Rachel Heine, Nerdist

It is essentially two movies. The better by far (and it’s very good) is the one that feels like a darker Stand by Me — a nostalgic coming-of-age story about seven likable outcasts riding around on their bikes and facing their fears together.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

These kids, who refer to themselves as the “Losers Club”, felt like my favorite oddball characters from movies such as The GooniesStand By Me and TV shows like Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds

A solid thriller that works best when it is most involved in its adolescent heroes’ non-monster-related concerns.
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

Across the board, Muschietti has assembled an amazing crew of young actors with a vibrant energy that makes them really fun to watch, whether they’re reacting (sometimes hilariously) to their dire situation or bonding at a local watering hole. Picture an R-rated Sandlot with a killer clown thrown into a mix, and you’ve got a pretty good start.
Rebecca Pahle, Film Journal International

How Does It Look?

Cinematography from Chung Chung-hoon, Park Chan-wook’s longtime DP, gives the film a richness and texture that’s far beyond that of most Hollywood films, let alone horror films.
Katie Rife, AV Club

How Original Is It?

At times, the movie excels at portraying the dread of children forced to confront a world indifferent to their concerns. But…it’s impossible to shake the feeling that we’ve been here many times before.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

The problem is that almost everything here looks like route one scary-movie stuff that we have seen before.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

A story that feels not so much freshly imagined as dutifully recounted.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Are There Any Other Major Problems?

Occasionally, the movie feels like it has bitten off more than it can chew, even with its expanded scope. Scenes and sequences sometimes feel disjointedly slapped together, like there were connective moments in-between that were, for some reason, left on the cutting room floor.
Drew Taylor, The Playlist

The non-clown essence of It…as creature design has become easier and more elaborate, thanks to digital techniques, it has also become less imaginative. Movie monsters resemble one another more and more, and movies of distinct genres feel increasingly trapped within the expected. The climactic sequence of It sacrifices horror-movie creepiness for action-movie bombast, staging a big fight in a cavernous space. We might as well be looking at superheroes.
A.O. Scott, New York Times

The escalating horrors are delivered via a rapid fusillade of discrete episodes that suggest journeys in a clunky, analogue-era ghost train. When all else fails, let’s have the mad clown jump loudly from the nearest large box.
Donald Clarke, Irish Times

It opens in theaters this Friday, September 8.

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