Between the cost of tickets and the difficulty of wrangling childcare, the hubby and I only go to the movies about once per season. I knew that, unless the reviews were scathing, IT would our fall movie. Like so many other thirty-somethings, I was given an unholy terror of clowns by the 1990s version (not to mention bathtub drains; thanks, Eddie's post-gym shower scene), and for all the scare scenes, rereading the book always feels like visiting with old friends. When I watched the trailer and saw Georgie chasing his paper boat through the storm drain, I literally held my breath; I hadn't known exactly how much power the story had over me until that moment. Needless to say, the reviews weren't scathing, so off we went.

And man, am I glad we did. I can't objectively compare this movie to the 1990s version because I'm not seeing it as a ten-year-old, but it was good. The adaptation felt true to the spirit of the novel while still being fresh; in addition to changing the time period, Muschietti replaced certain scare scenes like the mummy and the werewolf both to give the movie less of a '50s vibe and to surprise book-savvy viewers. The result is terrific; as someone who's given pretty sizable patch of psychic real estate to Derry, Pennywise, and the Losers, I had that nostalgic old-friends feeling without ever feeling like I knew what was coming next.

Speaking of the Losers, they're where the movie really shines. I'd read about how much Finn Wolfhard steals the show as Richie, but I honestly laughed even harder at Eddie (whose '80s incarnation has many thoughts on the surprising ways you can contract AIDS). All the kids do a phenomenal job, though; as my brother pointed out, Stan Uris is never going to be anyone's favorite Loser, but Wyatt Oleff was the best darn Stan Uris he could be. I don't like Skarsgard's Pennywise as much as Tim Curry's (again, this may have more to do with me not being 10 than anything else), but he's properly malicious and off-putting. You also get a proper sense of Derry as not just a bad place, but a BAD PLACE.

Although most of the story changes were either improvements or adaptational necessities, I have mixed feelings about others. There was a damsel-in-distress bit with Bev that nearly made me throw my shoe at the screen, although the movie ultimately handled it much, much better than I was expecting it to (so well that I'm not sure what else they could have done if they wanted to stick to a three-act structure). Poor Mike gets the worst of it; his part was basically gutted, and I hope his adult incarnation has more to do. (I read somewhere that his character really shone in some over-budget scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor, but now I can't find that link anywhere. "It" and "Mike" aren't very helpful words to add to your Google search.)

As for the scares . . . well, horror is personal, so it's hard to address how scary the movie actually is. I've heard some people say that it scared the bajeezus out of them, and I've heard others say it didn't scare them at all. For me, it had some deliciously creepy images, but nothing that crawled under my skin and stayed there after the credits rolled. For whatever reason, some of the scenes where It terrified them and let them go felt less like It was playing with Its food and more like It was oddly toothless. It felt more like really, really dark fantasy than horror--although as a fan of dark fantasy, I can't quite be sure that's a bad thing.

Those quibbles aside, I can't remember the last time I saw a movie and so badly wanted more of it. I came out of the theater informing my husband in no uncertain terms that the director's cut is going to be on my Christmas list;  I could easily have watched twice as much of this movie without getting bored. If you like the idea of Stand By Me with a demon clown or an R-rated Stranger Things, I can't recommend It highly enough. Just stay away from red balloons afterwards . . .
 


Comments

Jack
09/22/2017 11:32pm

I for one applaud the loss of the mummy and the wolfman. While I understand that movie monsters are something that would stick in the psyche of kids the Losers' age (Pennywise, ITself, is a prime example), I always felt that relying on the monsters from other movies for your scares comes off as kind of campy and silly. The '90s movie isn't too bad about it (I understand the book is much worse), but I'm glad that the current threats are more original.

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09/23/2017 10:21am

I agree. I felt that it worked OK with the Wolfman in the original miniseries because Bill lampshaded that Richie saw the Wolfman because of "that dumb movie," which let them figure out how Pennywise worked, but in the book it was kind of goofy. The giant bird that embodied "the spirit of Rodan" wasn't as silly as I remembered on a reread because it actually was an original monster; King was using the essence of what scared Mike about Rodan to make a creepy giant bird, and it worked. But the kid getting killed by the Creature from the Black Lagoon? No. Just . . . no.

I liked how the new movie accomplished a similar feat with the creepy flute-playing woman. Instead of having a kid with a lingering fear of Freddie Kreuger or something equally dumb, Stan had a lingering fear of this messed-up painting in his dad's office. We can all relate to that, and it wasn't unintentionally funny like the Creature from the Black Lagoon was.

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