IT (I Just Have a Lot of Feelings)

By andhonestly - Sunday, October 15, 2017

This review is SO late, it's not even funny or that relevant anymore. But I have a lot of things I want to talk about when it comes to re-imagining of IT. The reason that this is just now being posted is that I wasn't going to review it in the first place. Yet the longer I left it, the more I was itching to talk about IT.

IT Review 2017

Every 27 years, a shapeshifting demon, who take the form of a clown, terrorises Derry, Maine, hell-bent on murdering children. A group of bullied outcasts band together to put an end to its reign of terror.

I don't love this poster. It looks like one of my badly photoshopped college assignments.

I'm going to throw it all the way back to the 90s, when I saw the original made for TV movie starring the beloved Tim Curry. I was probably about 6 or 7 the first watched this - which is way too young. Way, way too young. My mum made the mistake of letting me watch it with her and she too was traumatised. It literally terrified me so much that it took me until 17 to read the book and 21 to re-watch it. 

IT Review 2017

If you're easily frightened then the novel will actually kill you. I like to think of myself as a seasoned horror addict, nothing scares me, but the book made me turn on all the lights in the house. Re-watching the original film was an experience. Tim Curry is truly horrifying, but the other cast, the writing and the "light-hearted" scenes were a massive flop. Which is one of the many reasons that I was both skeptical and pleased that Stephen King and Cary Fukunga were combining forces on a do-over.

What I expected was Tim Curry to reprise his role, the film to follow the plot to the letter (obviously omitting the child sex orgy in the sewer, because ew) and a stellar cast. When it was announced that Curry was too ill to don the Pennywise get up, I was unbelievably disappointed. But he is kind of old and he did have a stroke, so I let my bitterness slide. Then the cast was leaked and I was immediately thrilled with their choice of Richie Tozier. Finn Wolfhard is a fantastic child star, from Stranger Things fame, and based on this alone, I had very high hopes.

So, let's get down to brass tacks.

The first major thing that troubled me was the announcement of Bill Skarsgard as IT. Bill is an amazing actor. If you've ever seen Hemlock Grove, then you'll understand (although I do not recommend it unless you enjoy being bored) how talented and downright scary he can be. However, he doesn't fit my personal image of how Pennywise should look. Obviously, the clown isn't the only form of IT, but it is the majority of the disguises it takes in the book, as well as in both movies. So when Pennywise is finally revealed, it should be the most petrifying thing you've ever seen, right?

It's not so much frightening as it is daft.

IT Review 2017

The costume was a let down. The most worrisome thing (for me) about TC's IT was that his look was almost true to a regular, kid's party clown. He didn't appear so menacing all the time. Bill's garb was too distinctive and obvious. He seemed like he was trying to snatch up kids, rather than being a predator in disguise. In that sense, the costumer designer did him a disservice. The makeup also fit this profile yet the teeth (whilst true to the original description) were plain unnecessary. If they had gone with something more subtle, it could have had a better effect. Whereas TC's IT was clumsy, to the point of slapstick, Bill is more graceful and supernatural, which deflects some of the initial terror, but also adds a Child Catcher type of creepiness. But the most off-putting thing, by far, about the actual character was the voice. As a friend put it, he sounded like Scooby Doo. Once I heard this, anything sinister about the clown dissipated instantly. Because she was right. And thus, IT became a caricature of itself. But that's not to say that Bill was not a good choice. He is a great actor, he brought a sense of other worldliness to the role that it was in dire need of.

IT Review 2017

Stephen King's IT is a menacing evil that isn't too much about lunging out of the shadows. The 90s IT was pretty much the same, in that respect. He was more into lurking, stalking and then finally snatching up a kid he thought was worth the trouble. Sort of like the Jeepers Creepers monster who feeds off people's fear. Unknowingly, he bands these kids together into an alliance that will eventually defeat him.

But (and this is a big one), we don't get any indication of how they actually do that. Being friends by default doesn't mean that suddenly you can defeat a millennia old creature. If that was the case then he would have been wiped out before then. And the way it comes about at the climax is utterly annoying. In the book (and you're probably going to get sick of reading those words), it's explained that The Losers Club form because they are all outcasts, and "win" because they care about each other - that's the only reason given in the film and relied upon as a form of lazy story telling. In the book, they defeat him by each taking their fear and using it against IT. For example, Eddie uses his inhaler as a weapon. However, the power they evoke from this isn't evident in the writing or plot structure. Obviously, the film can't explore everything King does because we'd be sat in the cinema for an entire day, but everything that makes the kids, as a group, special is glossed over.

The child stars in this film were fantastic. I could not fault a single one of them, especially Wyatt Oleff as the neurotic Stan, and Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh. Their performances were spectacular considering how young they are. I was impressed. How they are written is another matter. Bev is really explored in this film and I loved everything about her. Richie was foul mouthed and righteous, as expected. Bill, however, goes from a troubled kid who mostly controls his emotions, to a whiny portrait of grief. 

The main annoyance was Mike. They pretty much screwed the pooch with that character. He has about 8 lines throughout the entire film and doesn't do much except run around. In the book, the thing he is frightened of is ending up working on the family farm the rest of his life and never being anything more. Whilst this is discussed, they sharpen that fear by having him afraid of killing animals. It becomes too harsh, too cold. He is an integral part of this books and they did not do him justice by treating him as an afterthought.

Another character they sort of messed up on was Henry Bowers. I really like how they fleshed him out as the son of an abusive father, a kid who takes out his own anger by bullying others. But the ending they gave him was not fair. I won't go into detail, but I honestly can't see how he will reprise his role in Part 2, if that's the direction they've taken him in.

The plot is more about friendship and overcoming fears than it is about jump scares, which I am actually pleased with. I was half expecting it to have been transformed into an idiotic teen scream. What we received has more substance and strength than that. Rather than relying on basic tactics to shock the audience, it draws on real life fears that the book is based around. For example, Bev's quite frankly horrifying relationship with her father (this actually scared the shit out of me), Eddie's mother's fear of illness, being transferred to him in extreme hypochondria and Henry Bower's abusive father. Some of the best moments from the book and original film were skipped over completely e.g. Richie seeing werewolf IT in the basement and every scene in the barrens - which were taken out, all except the moment they pelt Henry with rocks to save Ben.

With the exclusion of the barrens, we get a new entrance to IT's lair...a well inside an abandoned house. 

IT Review 2017

Which doesn't even seem that well thought out. It's as if the writers sat down and said, "We haven't got the budget to build a shit ton of sewers and a natural waste land. What are kid's scared of? Oh, haunted houses".

We also aren't treated to the reason for the singular "Beep Beep Richie" reference. Mostly because that was a throw back to 50s comedians and no one will get it anymore. My question was, why include it at all? It is one of my favourite jokes from the book, but I could have lived with out it for the sake of era appropriation.

Aside from the plot, the rest of the film followed a standard Hollywood narrative structure. Exposition, Climax, Resolution. We also have the obligatory "fight" where the group break up for all of 10 minutes and then are reunited by the most infuriating format.

The girl gets kidnapped.

Why? Why is it always the female character that's portrayed as the weakest (when we literally have one kid who uses a placebo inhaler and another kid who is afraid of a picture)? I hated the way this story line went with an absolute passion. It infuriated me to the point where I was literally rolling my eyes in the cinema. It doesn't happen in the book so why is the entire story changed to hurry it along? Originally, they went looking for it because they couldn't live in fear any longer, why did they have to make it about saving Bev?

I also really hated the last few minutes of the film. But that has more to do with finessing a kiss out of 12 year olds than it has to do with the point of it.

Overall, IT wasn't a bad film by any stretch. But as someone who is a huge fan of the book and the original film, I do feel massively let down by the entire thing. It lacked that childhood fear instilled by Tim Curry's Pennywise, the plot didn't follow that of the original book close enough to feel like it was the same story and I didn't care for how they left out poor Mike.

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  1. People have so different opinions about the movie. Stephen King himself loved it while others think it's a let down.. I don't think I would watch it though, I'm still traumatized by the original.

    1. I can see why the Master of Horror himself loved it, the actual IT character was truer to his original vision. But its not the same 😭 I don't like change lol