REVIEW: IT

Distributed By: Warner Bros
Production: New Line Cinema, Katzsmith Productions, Lin Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Vertigo Pictures
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Chase Palmer, Cary Fuckunaga, Gary Dauberman, Stephen King
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhand, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgard, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Jackson Robert Scott
Cert: 15
Running Time: 135 minutes

IT
Warner Bros.

Reportedly setting box office records, all is not well in the Kingdom of It. Originally a nine-part television series from 1990. This remake had decided to condense the story down into two films, simply referred to as Chapter One and Chapter Two, which is schudled for 2019.

Reading the Stephen King book in 1986, every page seemed full of evocative memories and locations, inhabited with emotional characters struggling to come to terms with the evil force known as Pennywise the Clown. Stephen King’s It drew the reader to every page and beyond; as those characters came to understand and fear the being which hunted them down, relentlessly. And oddly but fitting for a horror novel, the characters were written to be real and whole, with their own agendas and motivations. In essence, Stephen King’s It had soul and a pounding heart. And one last important ingredient for the genre, terror, genuine, unsettling terror. The only book to make me look away from the page and not want to look back.

It, as a film, from Director Andy Muschietti, fails to capture any of the books nuances, and characterisation and worse still the film’s 135 minute run time the scares are few and far between. The opening scene is by far the most shocking and the rest are downhill from there. Nothing that follows in It is anywhere near as scary or gruesome for the rest of the film. The film has all the feeling of a fake rollercoaster ride, where every twist and turn is over-manufactured.

Andy Muschietti gives It some unnecessary clichés, which reverberate around the film like bad scenes trapped in a movie which is trying hard to be something more but cannot escape these under pinning’s. The obvious ones, the obligatory haunted house , the small town vibe, oblivious adults. There are the Stephen King clichés too. And whilst there’s an argument to suggest these cannot be helped, Muschietti does not do anything different or new with them. The bullies in It are from Stand By Me and Christine, except they are not nearly bullying enough and speaking of Stand By Me aren’t those kids in It too? It is too familiar and too well trod to offer anything different or unsettling for that matter. Too much is familiar to be in the least bit worrying.

Which brings me to Pennywise the clown, the architect of terror for these children. I am not sure what brief the actor Bill Skarsgard was given but his portrayal seems like a mixture too. There is Michael Keaton’s Beelejuice in Pennywise, a heavy dose of Jack Nicolson from The Shinning and his Joker from Batman. More so the later because the makeup for Pennywise and The Joker are strangely similar and almost swappable.

In it the confrontations with Pennywise are never scary enough and for the characters or the audience. There are no shocks in It apart from the opening one and given what Pennywise does to child then you would think he would be inclined to carry on with the same retribution but no, the clown decides on misplaced giggles, a vocal tone only irritating waiter would have in a restaurant nobody eats in.

The only theme in it that truly works is the realisation – not through any of the criticisms listed in this review – is how Pennywise isn’t the biggest monster in the town by a long way. And maybe, that is the point of It. The adults, the parents of the children in are the real monsters, the child abuser, the slovenly police bully, the hypochondriac, over-bearing mother.

And above and beyond all the clowning around in It, that is the true horror here. We are the monsters and the clown is just a distraction from the fact.

 

 

Reviewer: Steve Hooker
Editor: Mr Pennywise

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