Fresh on 4K: ‘IT’ is a 4K horror movie fit for a King

Connor Bynum // Film Critic

IT

Rated R, 135 minutes.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Bill SkarsgårdJaeden LieberherFinn WolfhardChosen JacobsJack Dylan GrazerWyatt OleffJeremy Ray TaylorJack Dylan Grazer and Nicholas Hamilton
Available today on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Andy Muschietti’s brilliant adaptation of Stephen King’s horror epic after shocking audiences and the box office is floating on over to 4K UHD Blu-ray. But how does the film perform as it transitions from a fully packed movie theater to your dark, quiet, and empty living room? Actually, that sounds a whole lot scarier than in the theater — Oh, God. Why did I sign up for this?

Movie Grade: A

Set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, in the late 1980s, IT follows the story of seven childhood friends who each find themselves being haunted by a shapeshifting demonic entity that primarily takes the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård). The self-branded “Losers’ Club” must then learn how to overcome their deepest fears if they want to survive the worst summer vacation ever.

Featuring stellar performances across the board, haunting cinematography and expertly edited scares, IT is the best King adaptation in nearly twenty years. If you weren’t already afraid of clowns, IT just might make you want to join the club. (Read our full theatrical review here.)

Video/Audio Grade: A-

IT makes the jump to 4K UHD Blu-ray via upscaling from a 2K Digital Intermediate courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Be that as it may, this is one of the finest upscales to 4K I have ever seen. The rubber shine of Georgie’s iconic yellow raincoat really pops during the opening scene and the added effect of HDR really helps separate him from an otherwise dark and dreary color pallet of blues and greens. Finer details such as the grainy texture of a book’s pages and the chipping paint on Pennywise’s face really stand out to give the film a ridiculous amount of clarity. Sadly, the scenes where Skarsgård is replaced by his computer-animated counterpart are all the more noticeable and distracting this time around. The moment where Pennywise comes out of a refrigerator with every limb twisted and warped around his body just can’t shake the fluidity that comes from overdoing the CGI.

The HDR/Dolby Vision on this disc is truly fantastic. One early scene in a library features a lone red balloon leading one of the kids down into the basement. The increased color depth caused the balloon to be more than just red, but a much wider spectrum of the color that just isn’t possible on a standard Blu-ray. Exterior scenes like the swim in the quarry are bursting with vivid colors and a more saturated warmth to contrast the later encounters with Pennywise in the dilapidated well house that feature more subdued tones of filth and rot. The excellent work done on the HDR more than compensates for the film’s lack of native 4K resolution.

Part of what makes horror films so scary is a well crafted sound design, and IT soars in this department. The Dolby Atmos audio track will send shivers down your spine. Skarsgård’s terrifying voice as Pennywise cuts through like a knife underscored by creaking beams in the well house and clanging pipes in the sewer. The sound design of IT is top notch and this disc captures it marvelously.


Extras: B+

There are no included extras on the 4K disc. However, all special features from the standard Blu-ray release are included on the 1080p disc. (Read our detailed breakdown of the extras here.)

Full list of special features:

  • Pennywise Lives! – Discover how Bill Skarsgård prepared to portray the primordial creature known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
  • The Losers’ Club – Get up close and personal with the teenage stars of “IT” as they bond together during the production,
  • Author of Fear – Stephen King reveals the roots of his best-selling novel, the nature of childhood fear and how he created his most famous monster, Pennywise
  • Deleted Scenes – Eleven deleted or extended scenes from the film
  • Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese
  • Subtitles: English, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese

Final Grade: A-

IT is a perfect example of how to get away with upscaling rather than using a native 4K master. The incredible use of HDR and sound design take what could have been a simply “OK” experience and turn it into a wonderful addition to the growing catalog of available titles on the format. With the increasingly superb collection of 4K home releases to come from Warner Bros. Entertainment, IT greatly succeeds at maintaining that level of quality and is a must-own for audiences looking to turn down the lights and get lost in a nightmare.

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