Is it too much to ask for a horror film to be scary these days? Seeing as Annabelle: Creation is the only other horror film out in theaters right now, maybe it is too much to ask for.
IT wasn’t completely unredeemable, it has some okay moments, but it is also plagued with LOUD NOISE JUMP SCARES, too many pointless characters, a villain that is way too damn inconsistent, and a messy stagnant plot that leaves you bored most of the time.
First let’s start off with the thing I took issue with the most. And that is the overabundance of LOUD NOISE JUMP SCARES! Something modern horror films nowadays rely way too much on. Tossing a loud noise at you does not equal scary. It startles you, you’re started. Anything can do that. Hell, Orson Welles did that in Citizen Kane, adding a bird squawking during scene transitions to keep the audience awake. This was the only clip I could find.
And the thing that really puzzles me is when a film reviewer who rants and raves about how he hates the overuse of jump scares yet completely ignores a film like this where all the scares are just loud noises thrown at you. I’m calling you out, Chris Stuckmann.
There are two, count them, TWO scenes I actually found scary in this whole film. Of course the scenes are quickly followed by a LOUD NOISE JUMP SCARE, just to hammer home the point you were meant to be scared. It was like I was watching a Chuck Lorre sitcom like The Big Bang Theory, tossing in a laugh track so you know when to laugh.
The first effective scene is the only one that actually includes Pennywise and that’s when Georgie is talking to him in the sewer drain. Not the part when Pennywise bites his arm off, no, I’m talking before that, when Pennywise has the paper boat and is just talking to Georgie. Seeing Pennywise’s fake façade starting to crack as he is trying to be friendly to Georgie is the most unsettling thing he does in the whole film. Just him coaxing Georgie into reaching for the boat. It’s the only time in the whole film he does something like this. I have no idea why Georgie was so special. Also don’t know why he bit off his arm.
That’s another thing about this film that doesn’t work. They clearly had no real clue as to what IT was, so he is inconsistent as hell. They meaning the 4 other writers this final script was hodgepodged from.
Pennywise feeds on fear… but also he eats children? I assume he eats the kids, even though at the end you see all the missing kids floating around in the sewer. So why did he bite Georgie’s arm off? To scare him? I mean, biting off limbs is a pretty good way to scare anyone.
So then why did he need to seduce the bully to kill for him once the kids stopped fearing him? I mean, just bite their arms off, that should get them to start fearing you again.
Then why was he sucking on the Jewish kid’s face later in the film when they enter the sewer like one of the ass weasels from Dreamcatcher?
Let’s get back to the only other scene I found spooky.
So fat boy Ben is flipping through a book in the school library when suddenly all the images are of an old tree. Each page he flips, the image gets closer and closer, revealing a kid’s severed head stuck in the branches.
That was really the only scary scene in the whole film. Of course I think it ended with another LOUD NOISE JUMP SCARE. No, actually, they followed that genuinely scary moment up with Ben getting chased after by a headless CGI twitchy figure.
Here’s a weird thing this film did that I noticed. They’d introduce Pennywise as the monster first, and then reveal himself as the clown. Shouldn’t that be the other way around? Shouldn’t he show himself as the clown first then as a scary monster like he did in the drain with Georgie?
Most of the time Pennywise just stands there in the shadows looking like Ryuk from Death Note. Then suddenly he spazzes out, running at them. Of course followed by a, say it with me now, A LOUD NOISE JUMP SCARE!
Pennywise basically does nothing throughout this whole film, at least not to the Loser Squad kids. The Jewish kid breaks his arm, but that was his own damn fault. He also gets his face sucked on by Pennywise, like I mentioned before. Jeez, poor Jewish kid. All the bad shit happens to him. The only other harm that comes to them is from the bullies. Though this is by Stephen King, so they’re less like bullies and more like psychotic murdering psychopaths.
The only other person who gets hurt in this whole film is the fat kid Ben, who gets a letter carved into his jiggly belly by head bully Henry Bowers.
And that’s it. Nothing else really happens to these kids. Aside from Bev, who gets blood shot in her face. But I’m pretty sure she has more serious things going on in her life than a blood bukkake.
That’s why I think just focusing on the group as kids doesn’t work as well as switching back and forth to them in present day as adults. At least then a few of them died. Sure, I believe it was all self-inflicted but still, at least something happened.
So imagine this is The Lost Boys, but the vampires were after a group of 8 kids instead of 3 or 4. And in the end all 8 kids made it out of the house alive without a scratch on them after their tussle with the vampires. You’d call bullshit, right? So why is it so forgivable here? Because that is how it is in the book? The book also includes the kids running a train on Bev, I don’t see that included. There are way too many characters, a lot of them pointless to the story. Like for example Mike, the town’s only black kid. Why is he in this? What purpose doe he serve? Apparently not much seeing as he is constantly disappearing from the movie.
Oh that’s right, he did bring the cattle rod, that’s his major contribution to the plot, so at the end they can use that to kill Pennywise instead of a slingshot. I mean, we already got the kid from Stranger Things in this, we can’t also end it with a slingshot kill.
He played Richie, the jokester of the group. I never found anything he said funny except for the end when Pennywise is holding Bill hostage and Richie goes down the list of shitty things that has happened to him because of Bill, ending it with “…and now I have to kill this fucking clown”. I liked that line, that got a good laugh out of me.
Pennywise, for this sinister malevolent creature isn’t very malevolent. In the tv movie he still didn’t do anything to harm them, but he would taunt them with his words. In the updated version, after the drain scene with Georgie, Pennywise maybe says a few words here and there, but for the most part he just stands there silently, like that is meant to be scary. He also dances later, I’m not really sure what that’s meant to be. Funny? Like the scene where they show off fat kid Ben’s New Kids on the Block bedroom poster? A bizarre completely out of left field scene. It was even accompanied by a song stinger like this was a gag from a Paul Feig film. You couldn’t see it but Kate McKinnon was off to the side making funny faces.
I watched the TV movie as a kid… correction, I watched a single scene of the film when I was a kid and that was enough to freak me out. I was at my grandmother’s house flipping channels when the scene of Pennywise in the cemetery popped up. Just seeing the image of a clown in a grave taunting these people was enough to scare me. Rewatching it now I’m sure the film would be quite quaint. The film couldn’t rely on excessive gore to try to provoke a response unlike the new film. Take the bathroom scene. In the tv movie just this little splash of blood in the sink, in the new film it’s the whole damn bathroom. Because more blood means scarier, right?
I’m not going to put the tv movie on some pedestal, I’m sure it is terrible. I never read the novel, but really who has? Like all the way through. King has great concepts. He never knows how to end anything but his concepts are great. I’m pretty sure the first idea he had for IT was the scene with Georgie running after his boat, spotting a clown in the drain. That’s clearly the idea he had first and he just kind of worked outwards from there. Which might be the reason why the film is such a giant mess, at least plot wise, the story is really all over the damn place. I’m sure it’s just like that in the books as well. Maybe even more so. But to know that you’d have to actually track someone down who has read the whole thing, which we all know is impossible.
The book might be where the flaws come from, the original source material isn’t all that great, so of course the film adaptation wouldn’t fare much better.
Since the people involved with the film can’t include what Pennywise actually is, because it’s fucking stupid. You’re left with this inconsistent creature that doesn’t seem to follow any rules. Creatures like IT need to have rules. Like the thing from Lights Out, how it couldn’t move through light. Or Freddy Krueger, who can only get you in your dreams. Pennywise seems to play by fun house rules. If you’ve ever been to a haunted house or anything like that, you know the people working there can’t actually touch you. They can jump out at you and wave shit in front of your face, but they can’t actually make contact. He can show you all these scary images, run after you as a leper but he can’t actually touch you.
Pennywise has several conflicting things about him. He feeds on the fear of children but also their flesh? He needs you to fear him so he can eat you, but also he doesn’t? He will taunt you with your fears but also he’ll just bite your arm off? But he can be defeated by using your imagination?
See what I mean? Is it only kids? Why just kids? What makes them right for feasting? And what is the cutoff date, because he later kills one of the older bullies who looks like a young Marilyn Manson without makeup. I mean, I assume he kills him, they cut away before anything happened. He just stops showing up in the film with the other bully kids. It actually took me a bit to remember why he wasn’t with them anymore. Oh yeah, Pennywise showed up in a giant balloon and jump scared him to death.
It’s clear he takes the kids, you see all of them floating around towards the end but it is never clear as to what he did to them. Are they all dead? I mean, after the Loser Squad defeats Pennywise, all the kids float down, but you never see any of them leave the sewer. I’m guessing they were just floating corpses. And those were a lot of kids, too. Hundreds maybe. You’d think if hundreds of kids went missing in a small town like this, they’d search every inch of town.
Why didn’t anyone ever think to search the sewers? Georgie was last seen with his head in a drain during a rain storm, you’d think the obvious place to look for him would be the sewers. But just bringing that up with Bill’s dad sends him into a rage.
Hell, the kids find the shoe of one of the missing girls in the sewer and did they go to the police with it? Nope. Fuck you, cops, the Loser Squad is on the case! All fucking 8 of them.
Aside from the out of place New Kids on the Block poster gag, there’s also a strange stylistic choice when the kids start throwing rocks at the bullies. It’s like Zack Snyder took over for a second and filmed this one action sequence. It never does this again in the film, so when it happens it’s just bizarre.
One thing this film has going for it is how great it looks, that is really all thanks for cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung, who has worked on films like Oldboy and Stoker.
Let’s see what the director has done… Mama. His only other film is Mama.
Yeesh. I guess that explains his overreliance of jump scares. So you got a hack studio director that most likely was hired because he wouldn’t say no to the studio, working off scripts by writers that don’t have much to their credit… Gary Dauberman? Annabelle? Annabelle: Creation? The Nun? Starting to understand why this film kind of sucks.
So the only talented one working on this picture is the DP?
But hey, at least it looks nice.
IT isn’t the worst film ever. It isn’t even the worst horror film I’ve seen lately either. It does however feel very generic, you most likely will forget in a few weeks if you even saw this one at the theater. It’s very much a middle of the road generic meh horror film.
I was pretty excited to see this one and the film let me down. If you can overlook the fact the film isn’t scary, is riddled with jump scares, you might be able to enjoy yourself. For me the flaws couldn’t be overlooked. Maybe worth a rental once the second film comes out.
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