Sep-13-2017

Reel Snippet – It (2017)

Summary: It all started in October of 1988 in Derry, Maine when 7-year-old Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott) disappears into a storm drain, leaving his brother Ben (Jaeden Lieberher) distraught and desperate for answers. Come the following summer, another kid has gone missing, prompting Ben to get his friends — a foul-mouthed kid named Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), a sickly hypochondriac named Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), and the nervous son of the local rabbi named Stan Uris (Wyatt Oleff) — in on his search. However, along with three other unpopular kids — Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), and Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) — they start being haunted by terrifying images, all connected to a mysteriously malicious clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). Together, the seven members of the “Losers’ Club” figure out that whatever Pennywise is, it’s been causing the disappearances in this town, as well as several other terrible events in the history of Derry, and resolve that since no one else will deal with it, they will. God help them…

Review: It (2017) was incredibly disturbing… excellent, but disturbing. Everything from the warped shots and music to Skarsgård’s cryptic portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown is tailor made to unsettle the audience. But it doesn’t completely go for scares as there’s plenty of humor and light moments to be found. However, I argue that this makes the horrors of the film even more horrific because the contrast between the two is much more stark. I’ve heard a philosophy in writing that it’s good to follow up an extremely serious moment with a funny moment or two to make sure the audience isn’t too overwhelmed. This movie uses this to great effect, only to make everyone more scared.

While Pennywise is outstanding, everything would fall apart if the kid actors were bad. Kid actors can be a huge risk by themselves, so having a cast of seven was a massive gamble. Thankfully, it paid off because they’re all lifelike and believable, none more so than Richie as the comic relief. Usually, a comic relief kid whose humor comes from underage swearing would fall flat because of the cheap, gimmicky nature of it. But man, this kid is FUNNY. Part of it comes from the writing; It sounds incredibly natural for a kid to say at that age and it doesn’t hurt that Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame is an amazing actor. I honestly wish he’d gotten more development like the other kids, but I’m happy with what I got.

Fair warning for those who want to go in, there is a high chance of getting triggered if you’ve received any kind of abuse in your life because this movie has incredibly realistic depictions of it. That includes sexual abuse, humiliation, claustrophobic control, neglect, and overburdening. Now this is a common trope in Stephen King works, but I find it a little odd that the town of Derry only seems to have one decent adult. That said, it does paint a vivid picture of why the kids act the way they do, especially an incredibly sadistic bully played by Nicholas Hamilton. Having spent some time working with troubled kids, I can practically draw a roadmap from their actions to the habits of the parents. It deserves praise for painting such a realistic portrait of abuse and effect, but people should take this as a massive trigger warning.

Having never read the 1,138 pages of the original novel, much less any Stephen King book, I can only base It’s faithfulness to the source material off of the words of others. From what I can tell, it’s much more faithful than the Tim Curry miniseries, though it still deviates a bit in places. That said, I think the deviations are for the better as they remove some of King’s weirder tropes. There’s no random psychic powers given to one of the kids, no point where the image of a mummy is repelled by reciting a birdwatching book, and the less said about the underage group sex scene in the book, the better. There’s one that people call foul on, however, and that’s [SPOILERS FROM BELOW!] Bev getting kidnapped by Pennywise and becoming a damsel in distress, when apparently book-Bev didn’t take any of that garbage. [SPOILERS HAVE FLOATED AWAY] That is decidedly uncool.

This feels like one of those movies that benefits from multiple viewings and discussions as there’s a lot to read into, especially the deeper meanings of the Losers’ Club’s fears made flesh. Ultimately, the goal of this movie is to scare people with an incomprehensible horror and they did a marvelous job. Again, I haven’t read the book or seen the miniseries from the 90s, but an adaptation should be able to stand on its own and this one stands tall. I eagerly look forward to the sequel because judging from the box office turnout and the fact that the title changed to It: Part One at the end, there will be a sequel.

Fun Tidbit: So here’s a fun little Easter egg that ties into some of the weirder aspects of Stephen King’s writing. In King’s “macroverse,” the force of ultimate good is a giant cosmic turtle (just roll with it). When Ben sees Pennywise’s projection of Georgie after coming out of Georgie’s room, he drops one of his brother’s LEGO creations in surprise and it shatters. Alone, that would symbolize that Georgie’s space and memory had been violated by Pennywise, but the LEGOs happened to be in the shape of a turtle, symbolizing that the good in the universe cannot help the kids and that they’re totally hosed.


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