It (2017) Review: Beautifully Done, Not Scary
“You’ll float too”
Synopsis: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.
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Ludwig von Stroodle:
Anyone familiar with Stephen King adaptations knows they tend to be absolutely fantastic or total crap, and as a big fan of the book I was relieved to see that they got this one right. The cast was great (a huge improvement over the acting in the old miniseries), and their interactions elevated their characters from the generic monster fodder of most horror movies. The filmmakers could have left out the creepy clown entirely and I probably would have been happy with just watching a movie about the kids goofing off instead.
With the exception of the projector scene, I thought the effects were pretty well done. Tim Curry‘s Pennywise was creepy, but still just looked like a crazy guy in a clown suit. For this adaptation, the filmmakers landed Pennywise right in the uncanny valley, which is right for a monster pretending to be human beings. The combination of makeup, facial expressions, Bill Skarsgård’s voice and jarring movements all added to the feeling that he was a monster wearing human skin.
Like Calamity, I didn’t find it at all scary. Not much gets to me though; I’ve been watching scary movies since a way-too-young age. So if you’re like me and you’ve seen it all, It probably won’t keep you up at night. (I do know a couple of people who couldn’t get to sleep after watching, so at least someone finds it scary.) If not outright frightening, Pennywise is at least creepy, and always entertaining. His dialog is an unsettling mix of hilarious and cruel, and his relentless use of Georgie is a gut punch every time.
As an adaptation of the book, it fares okay. The novel is long, so the filmmakers understandably left things out. For the most part, their cuts make sense – and thankfully, they got rid of King’s weirder bits (no turtles, beams, or sewer orgies). I would have liked a bit more origin story; it’s a shame they left out the Black Spot. But the thing that bothered me most was that Georgie never asks if the balloon floats, which should be what prompts the “they all float down here” line Pennywise uses for the rest of the film. It would have taken two seconds – why leave that out? Also “Beep beep, Ritchie” is thrown in once (out of context) as a nod to the book, but makes no sense within the movie. These are relatively minor issues, but they did irk me a bit.
Overall, It was very well done. This also only part one of the story, so I’m hoping some of the things I’d like to see will show up in part two. I have to admit I’m a bit worried about how the next one will turn out. The children’s story is the strongest part of the book, with the adults falling a bit flat. The book holds together okay because they jump back and forth, but I feel like a lot of what worked about this movie wouldn’t fare as well with adult characters. Luckily, part one works just fine as a standalone, so if all else goes wrong, we’ve at least got one great movie out of the book.
Ludwig von Stroodle’s Rating: A-
It was incredibly well done. The overall quality of the movie was excellent, and I was impressed by all of the child actors, especially Bev (Sophia Lillis). Special effects and makeup were also carefully crafted and pretty damn creepy. Bill Skarsgård’s contortions are distractingly impressive, and lend the character of Pennywise an appropriate air of otherworldliness.
In fact, my only real complaint about the movie is that I didn’t find it scary.
I’m not sure how much of that is due to my lack of coulrophobia and how much is because I found Pennywise’s hijinks more odd and amusing than anything else. YMMV; I know plenty of people who found it disturbing, so take that into consideration before viewing.
I’m very interested in seeing Part II. A part of me wishes that this version had involved time jumps, similar to the 1990 It miniseries. But I’ll hold off on that judgment until this retelling is complete.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B
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