Everyone's favorite Clown floats back to Derry - IT (REVIEW)
Written Jacob Chimilar
IT of course was originally adapted to 3 hour mini series for ABC. As a result it is pretty cheesy and I couldn't finish it. This version has an R rating (14A in Canada) and that means the material can get extremely dark. However it doesn't go so far as to be something like a Saw film going more for visceral scares that would be genuinely scary for kids and seemingly adults too. My older sister saw the film with me and she was pretty spooked but admitted by the end just from exposure it was easier to handle. I think that is a pretty good point. We get too much Pennywise in the film. He is really creepy in the start, luring kids in storm drains and eating them but by the end he is just a big scary monster screaming a lot then disappearing. It isn't really explained why he does this. You would think a monster out to eat little kids would, given the chance, eat the kids. But it is a lot of near misses and seemingly disappearing for no reason, or because other kids are present.
The kids in the film are excellent. A very rag tag group who all play well off each other despite their clashing personalities. Beverly Marsh and Richie are definitely the ones who get the most focus and they are played wonderfully. I was a bit underwhelmed by Beverly in that she is kind of played like the token girl there to be a slut shamed sex object. Which would be fine if she is able to rise above it and take her identity back but they set her up that way and yet she ultimately is relegated to love interest, including to her father which is just so creepy (yet effective in her story arc). Richie calls her Molly Ringwald at one point which, if you take her Breakfast Club character is a pretty accurate descriptor. Her fear took a bit for me to completely understand but once I did it was my favorite out of all the kids as it was the most grown up and most terrifying.
This film tries to play with what kids find frightening and it for the most part works. I was riveted at the start with Pennywise in the storm drain, that was handled so well that I was grining with joy. But as the film went on and we got to know the kids all I could think was, why can't we just have a film about these kids and the problems they are facing? Why do we need to throw in this creepy clown as well. They don't clearly set up why he is terrorizing these kids. We know that he likes to eat them but he just toys with them in moments that are creepy yes but ultimately bare no real rewards for the creepiness most of the time.
The cinematography is suitably creepy and has that modern version of the 80's on display. some of the effects were a bit odd but for a horror movie they worked quite well. The camera angles and composition were pretty spot on helping evoke a sense of terror, with skewed angles and plenty of sweeping and steady moving camera movements to create an unease that I found pretty effective. The score was solid, if a bit cliched in that you can feel it telling you what to feel. The makeup and costuming for Pennywise was also really well done, he felt like a creature that looks like a clown rather that a person in make up as a clown.
The biggest problem this film has is that is comes to a conceivable climax but instead we still have about another 30-40 minutes to go and that takes the wind right out of it's sails. This could have easily been all that length shorter, or instead fleshed out the characters more so that we had more time to explore their traumas and have more to attach to for the adult chapter.
What this film has is a fantastic cast of characters that will draw you in and make you love them but is somewhat betrayed by a villain unclear in it's motivations and as a result comes off as somewhat bewildering as to why IT does the things he does. It certainly attempted to be different than most supernatural horror films and I think it succeeded in that regard but it is betrayed by a lackluster villain that doesn't drive up the tension so much as become a pop up ad there to scare you just on the surface of the thing you were actually engaged in.
Too much clowning around keeps the film floating at a surface level.