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‘It’ (review)

Produced by Roy Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith,
Dan Lin, David Katzenberg,
Barbara Muschietti

Screenplay by Chase Palmer,
Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Based on It by Stephen King
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård,
Jeremy Ray Taylor,
Sophia Lillis,
Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff,
Jack Dylan Grazer,
Nicholas Hamilton,
Jake Sim, Logan Thompson,
Owen Teague,
Jackson Robert Scott, Stephen Bogaert

 

Let me start by saying that I have literally no point of reference for seeing this movie. I am one of the six people in the world who have neither red the original Stephen King novel, nor seen the 1990 TV Miniseries featuring Tim Curry as the creepy ass harlequin, Pennywise.

This was a totally “virgin” experience for me, to coin a purse from another Curry feature film.

That being said, this movie was a mediocre horror film and a typical Stephen King “coming of age in the horrors of small town New England” story.

For those other five people out there whom haven’t seen or read the story, according to this telling of the tale, “It” focuses around a small band of young teenage friends who discover that there is unspeakable horrors in the town in which they live that manifest themselves as a messed up disturbing clown named, Pennywise, that can change shape and manifest itself as your deepest darkest fears. The kids must band together and put aside what scares them to defeat this evil.

Where this movie succeeds is in the utter abhorrence that Bill Skarsgård channels in his portrayal of the sinister clown, Pennywise. I may just be speaking from a world where clowns are the scariest offing thing in the world however I think I am spot on in saying that his Pennywise is about the most brilliantly awful thing on the planet right now. Kudos to you good sir.

Also where the film succeeds is in the overall tone of the film. The beautiful landscapes of the fictional small New England town of Derry, Maine is perfectly captured in picturesque postcard snapshots all the while the ominous and oppressive evil permeates the entire village. I don’t know how to explain it but as someone who has live in New England his whole life the really got the remote almost northern isolation and feel that is pervasive due to the lack of access via major highways and modern conveniences. You always feel alone and apart from the rest of civilization there. Nothing ever seems quite right in its quaint perfection.

This only adds to the feeling of dread that never quite goes away throughout the film. It makes the realization that this perfect New England town is anything but; filled with abusive parents, overbearing mothers, slightly off store clerks and of course killer clowns.

I can only really speak of the film when talking about the story so I will say this, without giving anything away. What doesn’t work is that it feels like they tried really hard to cram as much as they could into this 2 hours and 15 minute tale. Things that seemed like they should have been more in depth plot points and character development were truncated and rushed. I guess it is only natural when you are trying to cram half of a 1,138 page book into a feature film.

Oh that’s right. This is only “Chapter One” of It.

This film focuses on the characters as kids and I can only assume that the second film, and there will definitely be a second film because this film is going to make a boat load of money (and I don’t mean a little paper, wax covered boat either), will focus on the kids as adults. The only reason I assume this is because they all make a pact to come back in 27 years if and when the evil Pennywise rears is white powdered, red lipsticked mug again. Also the after film title sequence told me this was “chapter one”.

Fans of the original novel should be very happy with this rendition. Fans of the original 1990 mini-series as well should be quite pleased. Sure it is half a story, sure it is filled with the tropes all horror films are riddled with. AS one of my fellow reviewers stated, it is hard to NOT have a horror trope that is derivative of some other trope we have seen, seeing as a lot of them stemmed from King himself and the subsequent films made of his works over the years.

Go see It.

It will do it’s job and scare the bejesus out of you at some point and hopefully you will, as I did, enjoy the camaraderie and realistic portrayal of kids of that age being shitty to each other but also not backing away when the time comes for them to stand together to help on another.

 

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