The library of amazing Netflix movies is constantly changing, but a new addition to the vault just rocketed up the charts in short order. But this film is no Netflix Original: it’s a modern classic horror film that landed on Netflix this past Friday.
Oh, and this film is both adored by the critics (86% and Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab)) and audience (84% on RT) alike. And I have to admit, this isn’t a movie I was sold on when it first came out.
So, what’s the movie? It’s the 2017 remake of Stephen KIng’s It. Updated with a feel that made me think Stranger Things (before Stranger Things got really scary), It just jumped up the Netflix Top 10 Movies in the US Today chart, after arriving on Netflix this past Sunday (June 19).
Right now, we’re seeing It at No. 2 on the chart, right between Netflix Originals Spiderhead and Hustle. A great reminder that Netflix’s bread is buttered both by its own films and those it licenses.
What is It all about?
Clowns can be fun, but not in horror movies, where they are hideously scary. Such is the case four seven kids in Derry, Maine, who encounter the fiend known as Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). The demon preys upon these children — who are a group known as The Losers Club — because their minds are susceptible to the emotional manipulation it wields as a weapon.
But it all started out when Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), the 12-year-old leader of the Losers Club, loses his six-year-old brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) to Pennywise. Though Bill doesn’t know that’s how it happened just yet.
Check out the trailer for yourself:
Bill and his friends Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) all have their own personal emotional traumas, which Pennywise will manipulate along the way.
The Losers club also has to deal with a regular every-day teen drama, as Pennywise is just one of two evils in Derry. There’s also the Bowers Gang, the group of bullies led by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) that antagonizes Bill and his friends.
Why the critics love It
That aforementioned 86% Rotten Tomatoes score for It came from very strong reviews. Karen Han for Slashfilm (opens in new tab) commended the performances of the child actors who make the Losers Club so lovable, writing “The film depends — and succeeds — entirely on the strength of their performances, and for two hours that speed by all too quickly, it’s not too much of a stretch to feel like we’re on summer vacation with them.”
Scott Tobias at NPR (opens in new tab) Agrees, writing that director Andy Muschietti “gets terrific performances from his young cast, who look as much like the stars of tomorrow as River Phoenix and his buddies did in Stand By Me, Rob Reiner’s curdled nostalgia piece, based on King’s novella The Body. “
Christy Lemire, for RogerEbert.com (opens in new tab)praised the baddie, writing “But what Bill Skarsgard does with the role works well precisely because he doesn’t appear to be laboring so hard to frighten us. He doesn’t vamp it up. He’s coy—he toys with these kids— making his sudden bursts of insane clown hostility that much more shocking.”
Peter Travers, at Rolling Stone (opens in new tab) wrote “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”
Should you watch It tonight?
As someone who has seen (and loved) It, I recommend it for a first-watch for any horror fan, and a rewatch (like I’ll probably do myself). Children being terrorized by a demonic clown may sound played out, but with kids like this, It is a blast.
The only reason not to, arguably, is the film’s epic run time, as Travers also noted “The full-length movie, however, can’t match the trailers for sustained terror – it runs a punishing two hours and 15 minutes (and it’s only half of the novel).”