★★★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★
The Big One.
Every now and again you get a horror movie that breaks the boundaries of popular culture and becomes the big scary movie that even non-horror movie fans will flock to. Usually, horror movies are deemed successful because their profits far exceed their costs, usually low-budget affairs, and the producers feel perfectly happy making proportionally large profits, on films like The Conjuring, Scream, Halloween, and Paranormal Activity. But even those hugely profitable horror movie standard bearers hit a ceiling somewhere around $100,000,000. But It has managed to join the rare few horror movies of Jaws, The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense, and The Blair Witch Project to pass the $200,000,000 benchmark… It remarkably has earned, to date a mind-boggling worldwide box office of $700,181,000! (as of 1/11/18) It now is the second most successful R rated movie of all time, behind only Deadpool. Notably, all of those other movies were, in addition to being a box office champ, critically lauded. (Three of those movies earning best picture nods.) So, credit where credit is due: It is a historically important horror movie.
Now, not to make this a math lesson, but what this means is that Hollywood is going to be looking for other big horror properties. Horror now sells… and sells BIG. But, here’s the other lesson that Hollywood hopefully learned. Tell a good story. Tell a good story with compelling protagonists. All of the kids in the movie were cast exceptionally well, and the risky selection of Bill Skarsgard proved that you don’t need A-list actors to succeed in this fashion. A particularly inspired choice, since the pressure of matching Tim Curry’s memorable performance in the TV mini-series of It, was a very high benchmark.
The marketing was also brilliant. The trailers promised a terrifying movie, and there was much buzz that this may be one of the scariest movies ever, particularly compared to the rather tame network tv limited series. It certainly delivered the scares, but I would hesitate to say that it was an all-time scary movie. Even though the film breaks one of the traditional taboos of not showing actual grievous and gory attach on a child, the movie was not that gory. It certainly delivered on Eric’s First Rule: You actively rooted for and cared for the protagonists. I particularly enjoyed the performances of Finn Wolfhard playing Richie, (a wonderful counterpoint to his character Mike from Stranger Things), and Sophia Lillis playing Beverly. The sweet love triangle between Bill, Ben, and Sophia was anxiety-inducing in a good way. The kids behaved like kids, smart kids, but somewhat foolhardy as well.
This movie was a crowd pleaser. An R-rated Spielbergian film, filled with charm, dread, and bravado. A movie that will make the audience cheer, cringe, and leave totally satisfied with the experience. I actually think the best horror movie of 2017 is the similarly important Get Out, but I would prop both of these films up as evidence of a golden age of horror movies. I hope that this does not represent the summit, but rather a precursor to many more great genre films, as Hollywood recognizes that quality horror movies can deliver them great wealth and admiration. Thank you to director Andy Muschietti and the whole cast and crew for elevating up our genre so admirably!