IT (2017) Review

The one thing I can not stress enough about going to see “IT” is that you should leave your expectations at the door and try to go into the movie without comparing it to the book or the previous “IT”. I feel the inability of movie-goers to “not compare” film adaptations and re-imaginings is one of the greatest pitfalls that is befalling the American viewing audience today. For our own benefit, we need to learn to do what Frozen taught us to do and: “Let It Go!” The Internet is constantly swamped with comparisons and deflated expectations from fans whenever they compare the source material to a re-imagning/adaptation. Perhaps we’ve become spoiled in our “right to get what we want” in this regard. I imagine it’s a daunting task taking something beloved by fans, that’s been done well once, and do it again. It doesn’t always go so well, like with the all female Ghostbusters remake. Where did that go wrong? Perhaps it wasn’t in the fault of the film but in our inability to not compare remakes to their predecessors that caused the film to flop. Would it have been looked on so poorly if it were the first time the story was told? Why is “IT” different? Well, this is a topic we should save for its own article.

Andy Muschietti did a great job in this directorial effort. “IT: Chapter One” makes decisions that are different in the genre, some changes made for today’s society, but in and of itself, “IT” is a good horror film and, in my opinion and going against what I mentioned earlier, one of the closest Stephen King novel adaptations to date. YAY!

In Maine, the small town of Derry sits near a cursed well and is plagued by an ancient evil. Every 27 years people, mostly children, start to disappear. Bill, Jaeden Lieberher, is suffering from the loss of his brother George almost a year earlier. George is murdered when his toy boat floats down a storm drain and he meets Pennywise, the dancing clown, the evil that stalks Derry. I felt this scene was a bold decision to show such a graphic attack on a young child. Traditionally, directors would have “cut away.” Not only did they not cut, they played out the graphic moment through the entire attack. In my opinion, this actually didn’t work that well for me, it felt really heavy handed rather then scary or frightening. I felt that a “less is more” or “The Jaws” approach would have made the scene a lot scarier then having Pennywise show his fangs and munch down on poor George’s arm. Being that it was practically the first scene of the movie and we see Pennywise in his worst physical form, he wasn’t as menacing as he could have been through most of the film. However, the film does not rely on Pennywise for all of it’s scares. The individual scenes were the children are facing their fears were done very well. The painting scene was probably the most disturbing for me as an artist that has an overactive imagination. I think in that regards “The Losers Club” was a great mix of the Goonies and Stranger Things…damn it, there I go comparing again, but then again, some similarities are too close to be coincidence. The point being, you could identify with at least one of the losers, unless you were a bully in school. “IT” has those too and they are very unlikeable in the film as well. The casting was spot on and the chemistry between the kids was fun, entertaining, and brought the right amount of comedy and fear at just the right time.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Bill Skarsgard, was disturbing and frightening. His makeup was on point, as the kids say now-a-days, a stylish shift from just being a traditional white faced clown. The thin lines in his eye makeup added a level of creepiness to a visage that is already creepy enough. The high-pitched voice he used did not, however, add anything to his character and made him a bit silly sounding then scary. I felt that a more evil deeper voice would have had a more menacing effect.

Speaking of effects if there were any it was done very seamlessly. I never felt like I was watching an effects driven film which I think speaks to the success in blending the practical and the special. I do know, through online sources, that Bill Skarsgard didn’t need CG to make his eyes do the freaky thing that Pennywise does with his eyes. That’s all Bill! Freaky!!!

A planned two-part movie “IT: Chapter One” ends with the Losers Club making their blood vow to return if needed. Now the speculation can begin as to when we will get chapter 2 and who will be playing the adult versions of “the Losers Club.” As of now, there is no word on an official “Green Light” for Chapter 2 but I know its going to happen and I can’t wait!

 

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