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What Critics Are Saying About IT

Pennywise is about to haunt another generation of children's nightmares. It, which arrives in theaters on Sept. 8, is the first of a planned two-part film series dedicated to the ageless horror terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine, with particular focus on the septet of teen outcasts who come together to fight it. Initial reactions are in on the first big-screen adaptation of the Stephen King novelhelmed by Andrés Muschietti from a script by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Daubermanand it sounds like it'll be a satisfying experience for all the Losers lovers around the world.

Here's what the critics are saying about It

The movie is satisfyingly faithful to its source material

It is a King classic, and the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation earned solid ratings—but it hasn't aged well, partly because its antiquated special effects have rendered several scenes rather comical upon modern review. According to those who've seen this new iteration of It, 2017's take on the story is one that remains faithful to the eeriest elements of the book while offering a more modern lens through which to follow the Losers on their first crusade against evil.

Nerdist's Rachel Heine wrote that the new It "captured the spirit of the book and still created something new" bringing a "perfect combo of dark and fun." Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican said he considers the film to be "one of the finest Stephen King adaptations ever made" because "beyond killer clowns, IT also delves into the grief and anger kids feel when they realize those who should love and protect them do the opposite. These are themes in King's stories that filmmakers often ignore. But the best adaptations figure out they're the most vital part." 

Den of Geek's Don Kaye added that the reason It stands out among the bevy of modern King adaptations is that it's "scary, atmospheric, funny, and emotional"words which are also commonly used to describe what made the source material so special in the first place.  

The protagonists are as identifiable as they should be

The key to making any adaptation of It work is that the idiosyncrasies that make each member of the Losers' Club such social outcasts have to be adequately juxtaposed with their individual merits. Such personality nuances might be difficult for even the most seasoned actors to pull off, let alone a group of child stars. But critics seem to be quite pleased with how well the young cast handled their roles.

About the performances of the seven leadsJaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough, Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, Wyatt Oleff as Stan Uris, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben HanscomCinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg wrote, "the losers are PERFECT." Indeed, "perfect" seems to be the adjective of choice when describing the group—Collider's Haleigh Foutch echoed that praise by writing, "the Losers are perfection." 

Birth.Movies.Death's Phil Noble pegged Wolfhard, who's already had a banner year in the genre thanks to Stranger Things, as a standout, writing, "The big surprise is Finn Wolfhard. Really earns his spot." Meanwhile, MTV's Crystal Bell wrote that industry newcomer Lillis is especially noteworthy among the "excellent" cast of kids.

The clown is no joke, either

Taking over for Tim Curry in any role would likely be a challenge, but when it comes to his wickedly magnetic portrayal of Pennywise the Clown, it's a near-impossible feat. Curry's ability to navigate the darkness and comedy of his role as the creepy, death-dealing creature remains the highlight of the miniseries adaptation. Those who've seen the movie, however, seem to be quite taken with what young up-and-comer Bill Skarsgård has managed to inject into his new version of the iconic villain. 

Get Fandom's Drew Dietch even went so far as to predict, "Bill Skarsgård is putting in a performance that is going to turn him into the Freddy Krueger of a new generation," adding that the actor's delivery "is darkly funny, hypnotically scary, and has created the definitive on-screen Pennywise." 

However, some critics have taken issue with production quirks, such as JoBlo's Eric Walkuski, who wrote, "I have some issues with Pennywise, but most are due to the film using CGI when not necessary. Otherwise, Skarsgård is a creepy sonofagun."

It's genuinely frightening and will stick with you

Thrill factor is one thing, but critics say It will also stick with audiences long after they leave the theater. Considering a central theme of the movie is that It plays upon its character's deepest fears in very personalized moments of terror, that element is also essential—and, apparently, very effective in this new version. As Nerdist's Dan Casey put it, "#ItMovie was spooktacular. Great cast, surprisingly funny, and genuinely unnerving scares. You'll still be freaked out when you get home." Collider's Mark E. Reilly backed up that assessment by writing of his own post-viewing fright: "Saw #ITMovie. I loved it. Then took trash out in my empty, dark, stairwell... S*** FREAKED ME OUT CAUSE THAT MOVIE SCARED ME LIKE FOR REAL."

But it's also got some key moments of levity

As fans of the novel and the first adaptation will know, it's not just fear that binds the Losers' Club together. There are also many moments of humor and heart that mark their evolution as a group—as children and adults—and according to many critics, the light-hearted portions of the picture also resonate. Film Journal's Rebecca Pahle wrote, "I don't want to overstate the comedy aspect. It's not a full horror-comedy. But it's REAL g****** fun in addition to being scary." IGN's Terri Schwartz also called the film "terrifying and hilarious and delightful," and CutPrintFilm's Chris Evangelista described It as "a carnival funhouse of a film; loud, scary, funny. And best of all: it has heart."

You'll be ready for the sequel right away

While the 1990 miniseries was a four-hour spectacle that covered both gatherings of the Losers' Club, in youth and in adulthood, It presents only their childhood battle—leaving those who know the full story of the Derry demon left hungry for more. Collider's Perri Nemiroff wrote that she "didn't want it to end," while the site's editor-in-chief Steven Weintraub said he was "Ready for the sequel tomorrow."

Thanks to these near-universally positive first-round reactions, expectations for the opening weekend box office have escalated beyond original predictions, which means the chances of seeing the second leg of It look better with every tweet.