Movie Review: It (2017)

An adaption of the novel by Stephen King, which takes some cues from the 1990 miniseries of the same name, It is a 2017 horror movie directed by Andy Muschietti (who directed the short and full length versions of Mama). In the 1980s in the small town of Derry, a supernatural force abducts and terrorises a group of kids – leader Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), the Jewish Stan (Wyatt Oleff), the overweight Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), foul-mouthed Richie (Finn Wolfhard), hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and the home schooled and orphaned Mike (Chosen Jacobs), along with young girl Beverly (Sophia Lillis), who has a severely abusive father. The entity mostly takes the form of a monstrous clown (Bill Skarsgård), who calls itself Pennywise.

+ the kids in the Losers Club and their chemistry are like something straight out of real life, including the boys’ reaction to the introduction of Beverly into their group. Whether it is just because I can identify more with the 80s than I can the 60s or not I can’t say, but I found all of the children to be far more relateable, though the shit-talking Richie (Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard) is the highlight. I never really felt like the kids in Stranger Things were real friends, but something about these kids made it all feel so real
+ this Pennywise is an interesting portrayal, especially when he is more manic and off-putting than intentionally scary, such as when he plays with his food, rather than straight-up eating them. I liked that this version of Pennywise was so childish, and seemingly much more close to the age of the children – Skarsgård is only 27, whilst Tim Curry was in his 40s for his portrayal. The scariest thing about this Pennywise was not his make-up or voice, but solely the fact that his eyes never quite focused on the same thing. I noticed a lot of similarities to Heath Ledger’s Joker in Skarsgård’s facial expressions, at least when he was not doing his terrifying smile

it_2.png
“Hi-ya, Georgie. What a nice boat.” (image via Youtube)

– I’ve had lots and lots of discussions about the new Pennywise him/her/it-self with my friends, and I personally still have a few issues. Firstly, Pennywise looking scary (as Skarsgård does) seems counter intuitive if his goal is to lure children into the sewer – sure, he could just abduct them, but then there’d be no movie. Secondly, “scary clowns” are not scary; clowns are scary because they are supposed to be joyous, happy characters. Who would you rather ask for help late at night: this Pennywise, or Ronald McDonald?
– this whole movie was surprisingly not scary. Even now I am really creeped out by the original miniseries, but this movie was too reliant on late 2010’s jump scares and Pennywise “rushing” at the camera with that steady-cam, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ effect. Overall, the film tries to be scary through jump scares, when it is the far less intentional stuff that is the creepiest
– the film is just over 2 hours long, and even though there is a sequel coming, I can’t help but think that there was far too much missing. Some more scenes of the adults ignoring/forgetting the atrocities from Derry’s past, some more fantastic elements of Pennywise’s design and even the introduction of the Turtle, the Losers Clubhouse and the Ritual of Chud could have had seeds planted for the sequel. As it is stands, a two hour, chronological movie for what was a very long, not chronological book was not enough.

> Javier Botet has a small appearance as one of Pennywise’s more terrifying conjurings. Botet also played Mama in Mama, The Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2 and Set in 2017’s The Mummy – not a bad little niche he’s carved out
> I still don’t much care for the “You’ll float too” marketing line. There are so many better options, and it just sounds silly

Should you see this film: I had heard lots of negative things before seeing this, and I am a big fan of the original miniseries (and Tim Curry’s Pennywise) – and I’m not the biggest fan of clowns myself. This movie is not scary, but in many ways Pennywise is not the focal point, and the very strong performances of the Losers Club is far more enjoyable. I liked this, a lot more than I thought I would, and I think you will too.

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