This Thursday, despite being displaced from both my home and my college dorm because of hurricane Irma, I made sure to get to a theater and see It. This movie is the most recent adaption of Stephen King’s novel It, which also was adapted in 1990. For some unknown reason to me, I haven’t seen the original It movie. (Maybe I saw it when I was on a horror binge when I was 13. Either way, I don’t remember it.) I haven’t read the book either. Therefore, I will be reviewing the movie as a standalone piece.
The movie opens with little Georgie getting his little sailboat waxed and going out to follow it in the water going to the sewers. It inevitably goes into the sewer, but Pennywise the clown happens to catch it for him. Somehow Georgie is unfazed by the large clown man somehow being in the sewer, but he talks with him nonetheless before Pennywise strikes. This scene, at least, is common knowledge as it sets up the premise for the movie itself and is included in the majority of commercials.
We get introduced to the main group of kids, AKA the Losers’ Club, and subsequently begin to see how they interact with the other kids at their school and around town. Naturally, like any piece of media about geeky kids, there is the stock jock bully and his friends that seem to be a common link between all the kids involved. Bill, Georgie’s surviving brother, persuades the rest of the kids to go on an adventure to the pine barrens and check to see if his lost brother Georgie is there.
As the kids begin to enjoy their summer as much as they can —in a Stand By Me sort of fashion, if you can count searching for your probably dead brother as enjoyment— each kid begins to encounter Pennywise in multiple forms, individually tailored to their own terrors. (I don’t know about them, but if I even thought I was hallucinating or even dreaming some weird nightmare fuel I feel like I would’ve told my friends earlier about it than they did, but I digress.) Once Bev has her encounter, the pace tends to pick up as the kids realize that they’re all seeing the same thing and decide to take a stand.
The plot, which had been a bit slow picks up for the second half of the movie as each kid mentally prepares for facing Pennywise. Each of them play an important role to their team of clown hunters. From then on, the pacing picks up and more of the interesting parts of the movie happen. I won’t spoil from then on, but each kid manages to be developed despite there being a decent number of them to juggle.
I appreciated the amount of detail that went to accurately portraying kids around that age. It’s been a handful of years since I was as old as the Losers’ Club members, but I remember that there was plenty of swearing involved. Along with painful jokes that even we ourselves cringed at, thanks to Richie’s unending bout of awkward, classic jokes that never seemed forced by the writers. They felt like a kid genuinely forcing the jokes to seek approval, something that seems to make sense for a talkative character. (Side note: I was totally glad Finn Wolfhard played him. To see him swearing and playing video games makes me wonder if any casting people saw him on Game Grumps.)
Despite It being directed by Andy Muschietti, the guy who somehow let Mama’s painstakingly obvious 3D effects happen, It’s 3D effects, while plentiful, never interrupted the narrative. As an animation major, I’m able to spot what cheap, inexperienced 3D effects look like, and that’s what Mama had. It, on the other hand, managed to make me forget the plentiful hours of animation, visual effects, and other post production additions went into the movie. The only thing that stood out to me while watching was how beautifully the scenes were shot with the compositions and color toning. It was a beautiful horror movie, something that is hard to come across.
It’s horror didn’t come from baseless, cheap knee-jerking jump scares and splatter fests like many modern movies rely on. It went into the very basis of fear itself and different literal and metaphorical representations of it, and yet, didn’t beat you over the head with the metaphorical parts like some other movies do whenever they don’t just want to get you with any jump scares. (The Babadook. Cough. Cough.) The journey comes to an end with a realistic acknowledgement of all that the kids have been through (especially Bill) and the consequences of both their individual and combined journeys.
It ends with a plethora of opportunities to continue the narrative, and I look forward to seeing when chapter two comes out. I might just have to float to my nearest movie theater and tie myself down at the risk of being blown away again.