It (2017)

itThe main issue I have with this film is that it isn’t actually scary. Sure, its a well-made film, decent cast (Sophia Lillis, who plays Beverly, is the real standout and steals the movie from everyone – including the clown). I gather its  a sincere adaptation and has been rewarded by big, big box-office, but as far as horror films go, if scares and chills are the target, then this is just simply an abject failure. Maybe that’s the secret for its success at the box-office – its horror made palatable, made safe, made mundane. Hey-ho for the future of horror movies now that Hollywood has cottoned on to that one.

Okay. I have to admit, I’ve never read the original Stephen King novel. I had a spell in the early-eighties when I read much of the authors’ work up to that time- The Stand (my favourite), Christine, The Dead Zone, some others… I just never got around to It, and by the time I’d suffered through The Tommy knockers my interest with King had waned and I’d turned to Lovecraft and others for my horror-fiction kick. I’ve since returned to reading King’s work,mostly his latter material, but no, I never read It.

I’d never seen the previous tv miniseries adaptation either, somehow. People have often, over the years, remarked upon the tv adaptation as being great but for some reason it never got my attention enough to actually sit down and watch it. So this new film adaptation, that actually spreads the lengthy (standard King, then) novel across two films (there’s points there, surely, for the sheer bravery of shooting part one and waiting to see if audiences responded enough for a second helping) was rather akin to virgin territory to me.

My most overwhelming impression? Other than ‘where’s the scares?’ it would have to be ‘what was all the fuss?’ Its pretty much The Goonies for horror fans, albeit without the horror. I don’t know- maybe the film scared the bejeezus out of somebody somewhere but they must be of a pretty delicate disposition, surely. Or maybe I’m jut missing something. Wasn’t the clown supposed to be scary?

Maybe it was the CGI stuff. There did seem to be a lot of CGI. I’m not at all sure CGI trickery really works in horror movies, at least for me- it loses some of the more, well, analogue scares, the sense of reality, as much of the time when film-makers use CGI, subtlety isn’t exactly what they are aiming for. Or maybe it was all the standard King tropes that pattern so much of his fiction and their movie adaptations (I’ve seen more movies based on King’s work than actually read King’s work, like most people I suspect). Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood. Or maybe, just maybe, this film isn’t really all its cracked up to be. Anyway, I’ll wait and see what happens in the upcoming part two before maybe finally turning my attention to the tv version from yesteryear.

12 thoughts on “It (2017)

  1. Tom

    You aren’t alone. I wasn’t impressed at all with this film. My issues were two-fold: a lack of genuine horror (some argue the adult figures in the film, being the nasty pieces of work they by and large were, represented more the element of horror than the supernatural clown entity), and the casting, actually, I. Could. Not. Stand. Any of those kids. I felt bad for Georgy, that opening scene was as good as It got for me. Pun perhaps intended.

    I’m not keen on not committing to a film franchise all the way, but I really don’t know if I have the interest in sitting through another 2 hours of this. Granted, the kids will be kids no longer.

    1. Cheers Tom, good to know I’m not alone in disliking this film. When I saw it I wondered if I’d seen the same thing everyone else had. I’m really beginning to doubt the professional reviewers these days, particularly those in print in newspapers and magazines. Either they have lost their critical faculties after so many dumb blockbusters or they are easy swayed by favours from the studios, whether its from advert revenue or whatever. My only real interest in the next part is the presence of Jessica Chastain, who is always impressive, but we’ll see. I’ll certainly be treating it with caution after this one.

    1. Yeah that was one hell of a great book and they ripped the heart out of it with that awful miniseries. There was so much missing, particularly the cinematic stuff, oddly enough. It should have been something special, and I couldn’t believe with all the hours they had (a big advantage of miniseries over single movies) that so much was just left out completely

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        I read that novel on holiday a few years ago and loved it; and then by chance the series started a couple of months later.

        I watched about ten minutes of the first episode and knew right there and then that it was a dud, didn’t go any further with it.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    I quite liked this. I went to see it on a day off.

    I did read the novel back in 1989 or so, and whilst I enjoyed it, I didn’t find it book particularly frightening either. I liked the characters but the actual supernatural stuff was nonsense and it was a raggedy, unruly mess (with some extremely odd and unpleasant elements) that didn’t hold together at all.

    I’ll never understand the love for IT compared to the disdain for Tommyknockers, which is actually my one of my favourite King novels. Tommyknockers has a beginnIng, a middle and an end, and fabulous characters, and a central premise that – whilst ripped off from Quatermass & The Pit – actually holds together. Whereas IT is just a collection of random, nonsensical scare scenes that are eventually not really explained and don’t come together very well.

    Which is maybe why I had low expectations of the movie*, and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was just as I described the novel: a raggedy collection of scare scenes, done quite well.
    The cast were fine, it looked good, and the setpieces were effective, even if it doesn’t really have much weight. I guess your mileage varies from person to person in terms of how actually scared you might get from scene to scene: I wasn’t unsettled at all but I was very much entertained (the slide projector scene was terrific, I thought).

    I think for me it’s a case of the novel not really being all that good, so a film adaptation doesn’t have to soar to do it justice. Job done here.

    (I did think, though, that if I’d seen it when I was 15 it would have been the most awesome thing ever. It’s a movie for teens, and as such a pretty good one).

    1. You interest me re: The Tommyknockers, I absolutely hated it. Maybe I should try re-reading it again someday. I vaguely remember flying homicidal coca cola dispensers and me bailing from it thinking that King had finally flipped. Mind, the world was suffering from a King-hysteria back then, his books and films based on them rivaled Marvel Studios today for media saturation, Nothing breeds contempt like success I guess.

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        I loved that Coke machine bit! It’s a brilliantly integrated gag! I still laugh out loud to think of it!

  3. I think horror can be as subjective as comedy — lots of people are terrified of spiders, but other people keep them as pets, and so on. Even aside from specific examples of scary creatures/people/etc, one person’s “building sense of dread” is another’s “nothing happens”; one person’s “cheap jump” is another’s “cleverly constructed shock”. Anyway, I quite liked It. It didn’t chill me to my very soul in the way that, say, The Shining did, but I found parts of it effective — a bit like a scary thrill ride rather than an experience of genuine terror.

  4. Pingback: On this day, a year ago… IT. – the ghost of 82

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