Trigger Warning: Mentions of violence, rape, incest, pedophilia, child abuse, gaslighting, bullying, homophobia, sexism, racism, homophobia, stalking, animal abuse, antisemitism, child sex (eww), and worst of all, CLOWNS!!!!! The move itself also contains jump scares and possible seizure inducing sequences. Damn that’s a lot of triggers!
Oh wow, another movie review, and this time it’s of something that isn’t a Chinese cartoon and it’s actually popular, how unexpected isn’t it! Well yeah, I’m not much of a film buff, but I did see IT and I must say, I was quite impressed with it. No I am not going to be making any IT puns. The key reason I am deciding to make a review is simply because I was impressed enough by it that it prompted me to, I had no plans of making any movie reviews otherwise.
For those unaware, IT is based off Stephen King’s 1985 novel of the same name, and is meant to serve as a closer adaptation than the 1990 miniseries. I have not read the novel and am only familiar with key events via a Wikipedia plot summary. I HAVE seen the miniseries though, albeit it was probably about 5 years ago. A lot of people seemed to have found the miniseries to be notably scary; I was not one of those people. Maybe these people watched it when they were younger, but not me.
The most that the miniseries managed to accomplish was that some of the camera angles during scenes where Pennywise pops out creating what felt like a rather psychedelic tone. I did find he storyline fairly fascinating, but definitely not scary. I would chalk that up due to corny dialogue AND the fact that it was trying way too hard to make those balloons scary. Also, Tim Curry hammed it up WAY too much for me to take Pennywise seriously.
The 2017 movie on the other hand, was actually pretty frightening. Granted, not on the same level as something like Euphoria, but there was a definite rush during some scenes that seriously caught my attention. Right from that first scene with Georgie meeting Pennywise that ends with this young child having his hand bitten off and being dragged into the storm drain, you know that this incarnation of Pennywise isn’t fucking around. Even looking at his design, one can tell that he looks far more ominous and alien, which makes things all the more fitting since he’s a creature that feeds off fear; he isn’t trying to entertain kids so there is no reason to have that colorful outfit that Tim Curry’s Pennywise had.
If I have not made it clear, this movie is flat out superior to the miniseries in every way. I honestly do NOT know what the purists who say the miniseries was better are smoking. One of the biggest examples is the writing. The miniseries often came across as if it was written for kids and felt mostly artificial. While the miniseries was alright on its own, I just can’t help but notice more and more incompetence when put up with this one.
If I could describe my issue with the miniseries, it is that it just felt so damn clichéd. For instance, compare Henry Bowers in these two movies. In the miniseries, he’s basically as stereotypical of a bully as you can get, but in the new one, he becomes a flat out psychopath that could practically carry the villain card himself if Pennywise wasn’t here. You see just how sadistic this prick is when even his goons tend to hesitate on some of his more horrific acts. For fucks sake, the guy almost shot a cat with his dad’s gun. Yeah he may have been kinda sick in the miniseries to, but his most memorable line of dialogue was calling Ben a porker.
In the movie, his bullying involves explicit racism, sexism, and homophobia that very accurately represents the 1980s setting. His goons also happen to display a similarly murderous attitude, which make it all the more satisfying seeing Pennywise murder whatshisface. Additional props go to them for not having the one dude being a negative gay stereotype as that shit was problematic as fuck.
I found the rest of the losers club to be interesting as well. The fact that each of the main characters had their own personal conflicts in addition to being stalked by an evil clown was also an excellent touch and it really made the mood feel all the darker. Bill is in obvious denial of the fact that his brother Georgie died (no, that’s not a spoiler, the opening scene made it clear that kid is deader than Harvey Weinstein’s reputation) and his family is not comforting to say the least. Stan has OCD and pressure to abide by religious principals by his rabbi father… unlike those perfectly good Christians and their non fanatical parents (yes, I’m kinda bitter that there is so much more Jew and Muslim bashing in entertainment yet so little Christian bashing because we still need to pander to the Bible thumpers).
Mike is the only black kid in the town, and since this is the 80s, people are racist as fuck so his father is tough on him to make sure he can survive. Beverly is the token female of the group which means her father is a pedophile and she has malicious rumors about her promiscuity spread around. And Eddie’s mom convinces him that he is sick and has him on a strict regimen of pills that are actually
gazebos placebos and she is obsessive about his health, but they don’t take it further than that because it would be overboard to have three child predators in this movie. Oh and there is Richie who makes dick jokes. I can’t remember anything else about him.
And all these fears come together with the big bad himself, Pennywise. He takes the form of a clown that terrorizes the kids of Derry by taking the form of their worst fears. Considering that he literally feeds on fear, this is enough to explain why he is given god mod powers until the final showdown where he gets rektd. There is an obvious Aesop about facing your fears and not letting them control you… and also about child predators. Yes, it is pretty fucking obvious that Pennywise is supposed to be an obvious representation of those that stalk and prey on the weak and vulnerable for their own amusement and is likely meant to be a stand in for pedophiles… which is why it is fucking dumb that so many of you IDIOTS insist on trying to make him a gay icon! The guy is a literal child predator, the exact same stereotype that the right has been trying to peddle about us since the 50s.
Speaking about horrible implications, I have already made a number of observations about “problematic” bits of the original novel. I was originally interested in reading it, but after looking up a plot summary, I decided fuck no! I don’t know if this had to do with the time it was written at, but certain aspects of the original novel just sound flat out disgusting. I already covered the homophobia in one of the bullies who was thirsting after Bowers, since we just have to associate the gays with the murderous sociopaths. Oh and in the adult portion, they also kill off a gay couple because fuck them! These characters being gay added nothing of value to the overall plot unless it was meant to play off blatant prejudice. However, that wasn’t anywhere as disgusting having Beverly fuck each of the losers club members after they beat Pennywise for the first time. Yeah, she puts out as a fucking reward, that’s totally how it works! This is why you shouldn’t have just one girl when there are several guys.
Thank god that stuff is not in the movie. Instead, they replaced it with them all becoming blood brothers and getting aids… well they didn’t say that second part happened but I’m pretty sure this was middle school health class material. However, we do have willing suspension of disbelief, and that is better than filming live action kiddy porn… although that’s a pretty low bar to set. The fact that this movie this good is based on such a shitty novel is mind blowing (and no, it’s not just because implications that the novel looks like ass to me).
What really makes the horror work is the presentation. The score did an excellent job at accompanying their respective scenes and every actor put in an excellent performance. I could easily tell that the effects were exactly that… effects, but they were used in a way that greatly expanded upon that surreal feeling of the miniseries. The way everything is shot is so unsettling and unnerving that it leaves chills. Yes there are quite a few jump scares here and there but they exist to enhance the mood as opposed to being used as a substitute for legitimate horror. Just about every scene Pennywise is in is incredibly unnerving due to Bill Sarksgard’s performance and those creepy ass effects used for the inside of his mouth, and the balloons were surprisingly used to good effect.
Comparing the 1990 miniseries to the 2017 movie is like comparing the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy to the Joel Shumacher films. Which one you prefer is largely dependent on what tone you prefer. Those who aren’t into serious horror and prefer something lighter yet still slightly creepy while also being compelling should go with the miniseries. If you are looking for serious horror, than the 2017 film is what you are looking for. I tend to prefer my entertainment invoking strong emotions and reactions so I’m naturally going to go with the latter. If you didn’t guess by now, the movie only covers the losers club’s first encounter with Pennywise as kids, while a second movie is planned for when they are adults. I’m looking forward to IT: Chapter Two, as see a world of potential to be used when adapting this story to a modern setting. Seriously, can you imagine Pennywise hijacking computers? That shit would put the Russians to shame.
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