I remember being 16-years-old and my friend Steve Bramson and I would quote lines from The Shining non-stop. It was mostly because we loved Nicholson (we’d occasionally quote lines from Cuckoo’s Nest, too). I thought the book was scary as hell. The movie, not so much; yet I still liked it. That’s why I was surprised to read an interview with Stephen King around the time that said no film version of his books has ever been any good. Perhaps he didn’t see the same Carrie I saw.
He’s since had movies of his books he’s liked, but I was surprised how much he liked The Dark Tower and now It. Before the screening of It, we saw a message where he tells us how much he loves it. Maybe he’s grading it on a curve, against the 1990 TV miniseries version of it.
As a teenager, I read a handful of King novels, but only got halfway through his longest book — It. It was okay, but I had so many other things going on, and his books always disappointed me with their endings. I eventually just put it down and never picked it up again.
The long book was made into a long movie — 2 hours and 15 minutes of Pennywise the clown torturing the kids in a neighborhood in Maine (where else?)
Argentinian director Andy Muschietti, on his second movie, needed to trim down the run time a bit. There are a few nice scares, and some interesting visuals that are creepy. Just not enough to warrant the length.
Pennywise is played wonderfully by Bill Skarsgard, yet another talented acting son of Stellan Skarsgard. He has that same gleefulness in his terrorizing threats as Nicholson had when Shelley Duvall was backing up the stairs in The Shining.
The young cast is surprisingly good as well. They have a nice chemistry, and a few good lines when throwing digs at each other. And how can you not chuckle when they’re all staring at a girl in her underwear as Young MC’s “Bust a Move” is blasting on a boom box?
Jaeden Lieberher was terrific in Midnight Special and St. Vincent (Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy), but his stuttering in this was annoying and didn’t feel natural. His brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), has an opening scene that’s perfectly creepy and a good set-up to the horror to come.
Sophia Lillis is a natural, as Beverly Marsh, the only girl in the “Losers Club.” She’ll remind fans of John Hughes films of Molly Ringwald.
This group of kids is picked on by the most horrible bullies you may ever see on screen. It makes you wonder why they don’t tell their parents, or call the cops. Heck, one of the bullies carves his name with a knife into another boy’s (Jeremy Ray Taylor) stomach, and then chases him down a creek, talking about wanting to see the chubby kids “tits.” I leaned into the critic next to me and said, “Did this movie just turn into Deliverance?”
There were times the movie was dark in ways that made it unenjoyable to watch. That scene, and a father (Stephen Bogaert) that is always touching his daughter, and talking in sexual ways to her. They’re obviously implying that he molests her.
There were hardly any adults in this movie, and all of them were either drunk or unreasonably mean. The town of Derry is rather dreary. It also makes it very unrealistic (which I understand is a foolish sentence to utter when we’re talking about a killer clown with sharp teeth that makes kids float in sewers).
It’s not all a downer. There are a number of scenes that remind you of 80s films like Stand by Me, E.T., and Poltergeist. Kids riding bikes in a neighborhood, venturing into a haunted house, and going to the library to research past horrors of the town.
The screenplay was written by Chase Palmer, Gary Dauberman, and Cary Fukunaga, who was originally slated to direct (and penned Beats of No Nation). And since the story takes place in the ‘80s (and not the ‘50s), perhaps it worked in creating a feel of those ‘80s films I mentioned. Yet when I saw red blood flowing out of a sink, filling up a room…or trash dumped on a girl in a bathroom stall…I was thinking of other King movies (Carrie and The Shining). The style of the jump scares also seemed like old hat.
A lot of people will like the fact that it felt like an ‘80s movie, but here’s my problem. It needed to be a lot more interesting. What made Hot Tub Time Machine so funny (yes, it surprises me to say that, too)…is because they said funny things. They didn’t just go back in time to the ‘80s, and laugh because people wore parachute pants and listened to Poison. We’re supposed to laugh in It because a boy is a fan of New Kids on the Block.
So this movie needed more than just an appealing look, bad music (aside from The Cure and XTC which were played), and an AMC Pacer driving by.
The movie is a bit of a mess, and instead of making a cohesive story, it just piles on various scary scenes that don’t add up to much. Yet I have no doubt this movie will float to the top of the box office.
I’m giving it 2 stars out of 5.
— Side note, after I posted my review on Facebook, the friend I brought with me that loves horror movies said this: I actually would have given it 1/2 star ⭐️ extra….Probably since I am a “die-hard” Stand by Me fan.
When the kids were walking in the fields, discussing a dead body, I swear I heard the name “Brower” mentioned.
Anyway, even the characters were almost identical to the “Stand by Me” posse (It’s 2017 BABY!)
We had the chubby, most picked on kid (Jerry O’Connell pre-hunk stage), the angry kid w/the specs (Corey Feldman when he had all his teeth!) + the sad/troubled kid (Wil Wheaton) who’s home life was just as dreary as the main character’s. Notice both their Fathers spoke in the same monotone.
And the bully leader of the older teenage gang was the doppelgänger of the young Kiefer minus the cool bleached blond hair that his wingman had.
Only a “die-hard” SBM fan would know all this on a whim. 😉
Next on my bucket list: 📜
Read the 📚.
Even though it looks to be longer than the Bible.
Which is No. #1 on my bucket list of course. 🤦🏻♀️ 🙏🏽 🙊 ⛪️