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25 September 2017 @ 07:52 pm
Film Review: It (2017)  
Well, I THOUGHT my first real entry back to LJ was going to be a review of The Defenders. But I recently saw the latest adaptation of Stephen King's It and was hit by a surprising amount of feelings about it. Mild spoilers below the cut.

The story that's been legitimizing Clown Phobia everywhere gets a second adaptation after several false starts, three directors cycled out, and one recast of Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

The film we eventually gets is set in the late 1980s in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, a popular locale for most of Stephen King's horror stories. It centers on a group of misfit kids (the self-proclaimed Losers Club) who over one summer end up going against a centuries old evil that goes in the guise of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgaard, taking over for Will Poulter). I won't get into the particulars of the plot because it's rather unnecessary. King's original novel split its timeline between when the kids first encounter the clown to 27 years later when they have to face It again. However, the movie chose to stick with just the kids' portion of the story, which in many ways I thought was kind of a good choice considering what a stellar cast of young actors they had on their hands.

For anyone who is normally not a horror movie person, I would almost argue that this movie isn't that much of a horror film. Yes, it features a demonic clown that eats children. But considering that's the source material, I found the scare factor for this to be pretty low. The movie hinges most of the frights on jump scares, which in my opinion is cheating because we all have a startle response. I'm hardly going to be impressed if you get me by having a loud shriek go off every other scene. I blame most of the lack of horror on Skarsgaard. I really don't understand how he's getting so many accolades for playing this role. I found his portrayal to be shockingly not scary and almost kind of pathetic. The film also didn't really explain the full extent of Pennywise's influence to adequately make him feel like a looming threat. In the novel, he is able to extert a lot of control over the adults of the town so that they largely ignore the danger surrouding their children and are often the source of the danger itself under Pennywise's powers. The fact that the grown ups are the source of danger or at best, just checked out, makes the Losers Club's isolation and fear all the more palpable. Because the movie never really tells us this, Pennywise's presence consequently feels less menancing than the adults in the kids' lives like Beverly's abusive father and Eddie's extremely creepy mother, whom I'm assuming would be this frightening with or without Pennywise.

So the movie didn't really work for me as a horror film, but it was really great as a coming of age movie. The movie was also surprisingly funny and was probably at its best when it featured the kids riffing off each other and cracking Your Mom jokes. From watching the interviews of the kids, it's clear they had a lot of fun and comraderie on set, which translated over well into the film. The chemistry and the bond between the seven kids is very strong and by the end when they make their pact to come back should Pennywise ever return, you can really believe them as a group is truly powerful enough to defeat evil. If you know the story and what happens to some of them as adults, it's all the more heartbreaking.

It was previously adapted once before as a miniseries starring Tim Curry as Pennywise. And you can pretty much say he was the best thing in that particular adaption. The kids that they got for that film were okay, but they really do come across as kids who are acting so I never felt like I was watching anything other than child actors doing a movie. The kids in this latest film were more or less uniformly fantastic and seemed like real children. For some, that will probably be a winning factor, but for others that may actually put you off the movie since you do have to watch them be terrorized every other scene. However, the movie front loads the violence toward children so if you can just sit through the opening where 7 year old George gets his arm bitten off (yes, they actually show that), you've probably sat through the worst of it.