"I take orders from the Octoboss."


STAND BY ME vs. THE THING. A group of young nerd friends in the small town of Derry, Maine battle a shape-shifting (usually clown-shaped) thing-from-another-(not-specified) that feeds on the fears of children. Oh, and also feeds on the actual children, apparently as a way to create more of that sweet fear.

Stephen King’s book tells the story of this “Losers’ Club” in 1958, and then reunites them as adults to do It in grown up style. Andy Muschietti (MAMA)’s movie just handles the childhood half of the story, moving it up to the summer of 1989, three years after the book even came out.

I read the book probly 30 years ago and only remember it well enough to be thankful they left out the pre-teen gang bang scene. I still question the part where a bunch of boys and one girl go swimming together in their underwear and then hang out that way. Maybe it was different on the east coast but this seemed like an alien clown’s idea of what the youths do together. Also the graphic blood pact seemed to me from a different time, but I guess God bless those little psychos for being up to that kind of self-mutilation. I couldn’t do it.

Though I can’t really comment on how well it adapts the book, this movie definitely paints a vivid picture of the Stephen King view of the world (especially the past). You got your young people with their old timey bicycles and adult-level sentimentality – kids in touch with their feelings enough to hug their little brothers and their friends before or after major life events. They come from working class families that don’t understand them. Most have a parent who’s either stiflingly overprotective or sickeningly abusive. They’re terrorized by older kids who are even more working class, and part of some macho rebel subculture (rocker dudes now instead of greasers) and their ringleader, Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC), is a straight up psycho who proves to be homophobic, abusive of animals, and racist and anti-semitic in an old school KKK harassing-people-and-telling-them-to-leave-town kind of way. He goes nuts and poses as much of a threat as the evil shapeshifiting clown monster Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard, ATOMIC BLONDE).

Our lead Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL) is kind of the square, sensitive guy like Gordie in STAND BY ME (from the novella The Body). While Gordie was haunted by the death of his cool older brother, Ben is the cool older brother haunted by the death of his younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). Poor kid gets snatched up in the nightmarishly effective opening, but Bill won’t give up on him being alive. Instead of getting his friends to come look for a dead body he gets them to come explore the sewers, where he hopes to find the non-dead body of his brother, swept away and just kicking it somewhere I guess.

A new member of the clique is Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), who is chubby and thus the most violently picked on by the bullies. I have to confess I have no idea why, when he gets legitimately slashed with a knife, the kids don’t go to an adult, but instead shoplift medical supplies to secretly bandage him with. They act like he got that wound robbing a bank. Maybe I missed something.

Richie (Finn Wolfhard from AFTERMATH and having the greatest name ever) is a standout Loser because he’s the obnoxious smart ass kid who gets most of the funny lines. This makes him more likable than his straighter character on Stranger Things. By the way I wonder if after we all pass this guy will be dragged out as an expert on the 1980s.

The coolest Loser is the only girl they know, Bev (Sophia Lillis). She’s a rebel introduced smoking in the girls’ room (though she then gets toilet water dumped on her head). She’s even cooler after she cuts her hair short. That was considered unacceptable when the TV character Felicity did it, according to what I’ve read, but now people like it. One of the kids compares her to Molly Ringwald as a way to teaser her but also nudge the audience that hey she’s like the Molly Ringwald character this is like an ’80s movie you guys.

I think in the book she was a tomboy who fit in as just one of the boys. This is a different dynamic because the camera keeps emphasizing her eyes and you figure Bill and Ben can’t be the only ones with crushes on her. Poor Ben is writing love poems to her and she loves them and he still gets no traction. She looks like his big sister. Out of his league.

Honestly it seems like she’s out of the entire Club’s league. She’s only a Loser because of (incorrect) rumors of so-called sluttiness. The whole town judges and degrades her for her alleged sexuality while her dad (Stephen Bogaert, AMERICAN PSYCHO) creeps on her for it. Thankfully whatever abuse is going on is not shown.

My favorite bit in the whole movie is actually a sweet friendship thing between Bev and Ben. Bev discovers that Ben secretly loves a certain top 40 group that it wasn’t cool for boys to like. She never tells anyone, but will use titles of their songs when talking to him, and it doesn’t read as a taunt, but as a secret code saying we have this thing between us that nobody else knows about.

It’s these touches of humanity that make the evil clown movie work, and even the lead bully has a few of them. Many of King’s bad guys seem one-dimensional, especially by the time they’ve been simplified into movie form. This could be said of Henry Bowers except for one upsetting scene where he’s playing target practice with beer cans and tries to get his friend to hold up a cat as his next target. Suddenly his dad (Stuart Hughes, FOOD OF THE GODS 2), a cop, shows up and stops him. But his dad fires a few shots near Henry’s feet, making him cry to demonstrate to his friends that he’s not really as tough as he pretends to be. It’s a traumatic plunge from cat rescue to bully comeuppance to oh-shit-this-guy-is-a-maniac-and-that-must-be-part-of-why-his-son-is-such-a-piece-of-shit. And then you think about Henry’s bigotry and that he must’ve learned it from somewhere and that this guy he probly got it from is allowed to be a cop.

Later Henry is still moping about the incident. And you still fucking hate him, and he’s only gonna get worse. But for a little bit there you can see where it comes from, what broke his humanity, and you can have a tiny bit of sympathy for him.

Even though Bev had it worse and she’s still nice to people.

The 1989 setting is pretty smart – a way to make the story nostalgic for the generation that grew up on the book rather than the generation of the guy who wrote it. And unlike the brothers who do the somewhat similar Stranger Things show, Muschietti was of age at the time and remembers what it was like (at least in Argentina). As always, there are trivial things that don’t ring true to me: a kid making fun of a mullet and knowing to call it a mullet, for example, and the bedroom with the GREMLINS and BEETLEJUICE one sheets. I’m not entirely against the pandering – honestly I had cooler shit on my wall at that time – I just don’t buy how neat it is! There ought to be all kinds of ugly magazine ads and shit taped all over that wall. And throw in some stuff that’s not cool to make it more believable. Some Budweiser swimsuit ads, a Lamborghini, a Pepsi logo. You can’t tell me these kids don’t like stupid shit.

(Except Bev. Her room has concert posters for Siouxsie and the Banshees, Psychedelic Furs and Young Fresh Fellows, a Seattle band that I don’t think had much national exposure. She out-eclectics her fellow Losers.)

But let me tell you the one thing I absolutely cannot buy about IT: it starts in June 1989 and not one person suffers from Batmania. We see BATMAN on the marquee of the local theater (along with LETHAL WEAPON 2, which, it has been pointed out, came out in July), but nobody ever acknowledges its existence. Nobody is lined up outside of this theater during the first week of release.

Seven nerds in their early teens, not one of them wears a bat-symbol shirt or plays a “Batdance” cassingle or says “we can’t keep searching the sewers for your dead brother forever, we haven’t even seen BATMAN yet and we are literally the only people in the entire world who haven’t seen it and I am dying inside because you guys it’s BATMAN, we are Americans”? No way. Not believable.

A minimum of four of those kids should be wearing Batman shirts. Two to three should have the poster on their wall. The bullies should also be wearing Batman shirts. The fucking clown should be wearing a Batman shirt if it’s gonna be realistic. Or I guess a Joker shirt. That’s just how it was back then.

Many who lived through Batmania also saw the IT tv mini-series the next year. Some are married to Tim Curry’s version of Pennywise and were turned off by this even more straight-forwardly sinister design because he could never be an actual working clown looking like that. To that I say, first of all, that the demonic farting clown from SPAWN was hired to do a birthday party. And secondly, I like him. With his rat teeth, his abnormally large head, his thick caked-on face-paint texture, and his strange twisty-turny movements he looks like he’s not actually human. He doesn’t know how to be a circus clown, he just knows how to be the kind of clown that sticks his head out of a storm drain to offer a kid a balloon. The kid who talks to a clown in that situation (Georgie) clearly will talk to anybody, so you might as well make him as weird and scary as you want. And Skarsgard gives a very good performance of malevolence and occasional goofiness. Like a mean hyena that sometimes plays dumb.

I like the clown, his expanding mouth and multiplying teeth, his appearance as a woman from an expressionistic painting. I like the scene where Bev is attacked by a hair clog and a spout of blood from the bathroom sink. It’s part EVIL DEAD tree attack, part Johnny-Depp’s-bed-in-A-NIGHTMARE-ON-ELM-STREET, part CARRIE menstruation terror. I think there’s a Freddy type logic to the attacks in that they’re based on the fears of the victims. I don’t think I followed all of them, though. I also didn’t really understand Pennywise’s whole operation – are the (SPOILER) floating bodies the souls of the murdered? Do they get to go to heaven now? I guess Bev unfroze because… she wasn’t scared, they said? But none of the others could come back, right? They’re long dead?

This lack of clarity leads to something very effective, though: the long, uncomfortable stretch between when (SPOILER) Bill puts a slaughterhouse bolt in his little brother’s head and when the movie confirms that yes, that was It in the form of Georgie (and a metaphor for acceptance of never having his brother back). But I wish I either understood the rules or felt like they were rules that couldn’t possibly be understood.

As much as I liked IT, and am already thinking of seeing it again, the thing holding me back from loving it is, weirdly, the horror. This supernatural stuff is cool, but doesn’t really give me that primal “oh shit” in my gut that I want to get. I’m not usually that into ghost movies, and this kind of follows a similar pattern: some weird shit happens, back to the plot, some weird shit happens, back to the plot, usually no consequences for the weird shit sequences. They just keep coming, though, as if out of the back seat of a clown car.

(See, because clowns.)

The sequences mostly lack the clever craftsmanship Muschietti showed in MAMA. They’re good, but they’re not pushing any envelopes. They’re just filling up the envelope with a very thick letter, I guess. With all the anticipation and the R-rating and five-minutes-longer-than-DAWN-OF-THE-DEAD running time it feels eventful enough that it oughta be groundbreaking too. It oughta be “Remember the first time you saw IT?” long after it’s “Well, they finally did IT!”

I suspect any fault there is with the book itself. The paperback was the size of a brick and it had something like 11 main characters and spanned 27 years like an epic, but when it came down to it was it much more than “growing up is hard and you get scared and there’s a monster that likes that so you gotta face your fears to stop it”? Well, that’s kinda what the movie is, at least, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET already cornered that market before the book even came out.

But the first-half approach of the adaptation (credited to original director Cary Fukanaga [True Detective] & Chase Palmer and Gary Dauberman [ANNABELLE]) works really well. It feels like a standalone movie but with a nice lead-in to what the next chapter is about. I was thinking they’d completely restructured the story, but I guess that’s just my memory of the mini-series, which intercut the time periods. This left me excited for the next half, though we’ve grown to like these actors and now will have to switch them out. Or wait 27 years. Or do some amazing aging makeup. Maybe they’ll just use the grown up cast of the TV version.

By the way I had this idea that Harry Anderson would have a cameo. It would turn into him to scare everybody. King movies often use pop songs from his childhood contrasted against bad things to make them creepy. It’s a shame they don’t do that with the Night Court theme.

Whatever may be missing, IT feels bigger and better than your average horror movie of the modern era. It brings me back a little. It saddens me that Fangoria’s not around to do an issue on it. If you’re a fan of the genre I think you gotta see this. Let me know what you think.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 at 12:35 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

175 Responses to “It”

  1. Loved this new adaptation. I was a bit bummed out they still left out a fair bit from the book (eg: Henry isn’t even the craziest of his bully friends, Patrick Hockstetter was actually worse and there was a side story where he murders his own baby brother and puts animals in a fridge to starve/suffocate and is killed by It in the form of flying leeches coming out of said fridge). But I thought the move to the 80s was smart to appeal to the main audience cross-sections nostalgia for all things 80’s, as well as making the kids’ fears more of the deep seeded variety than just having It appear as movie monsters and stuff like he does for most of the kids in the book/mini-series. Tim Curry still remains the best part of the old mini-series, but I like this new take on It more. The scenes where he’s clearly salivating hungrily the more the kids are getting scared just totally sold me.

  2. John Cena should play Ben in the sequel.

  3. Jessica Chastain or Catherine Waterson as adult Bev.

  4. Remember Maturin that giant intergalactic “giving birth to worlds” turtle from the book?
    I guess that didn´t make it into the movie. :D


    Maturin is the Turtle and one of the twelve Guardians of the Beams that hold up the Dark Tower. It guards one end of the Beam that is guarded on the other end by Shardik. Described as being a Turtle of massive size with an ancient appearance, Maturin existed long before the creation of the mainstream universe in Stephen King's novels. By nature, Maturin is kind and benevolent, having a very grandfather-like demeanor when speaking to humans. Maturin is said to be constantly withdrawn into his...

  5. RE: 1989 references. At least they got the right NIGHTMARE movie from that year with it’s awesome original theatrical poster. They could’ve easily just gone with one of the more beloved ones and most wouldn’t have even noticed. I did find it sad that the only movies that existed in their world where WB or New Line releases. Even if they were all good ones IMO.

    Anyway the movie had me by the balls with the first 2 acts. Even with the changes (like switching Ben and Mike’s roles among other things) it was working and true to the spirit of the book.

    Then the third act happened. That’s where you can tell it went through 2 directors. It was a mess that damn near felt like a different movie and the deviations from the book were for the worse there (ie: Henry Bowers death, final confrontation, how Ben got completely played by the end).

    Took it from a 4 star movie (out of 5) to a 3 star with the quickness. Just Hollywood as fuck. They even showed the deadlights yet lacked any imagination while going that “weird” it was just night lights smh.

    The Pennywise dude was ok. Sometimes I felt he went too hammy where Curry found a better balance that and Curry owns “Beep beep Richie!” Skaarsgard’s delivery was wick wick wack. However the tone was good and the kids were excellent. That Richie kid had great delivery. The beaver trap joke got a legit and very hearty snort from me. Sometimes that is enough to help something make the grade.

    That little girl looked just like Amy Adams so now you know who I think must be adult Bev. I loved that there was an effort to communicate that IT’s the great evil that infects and rots derry and it’s residents but they honestly pussyfooted around that a lot.

    Overall I’d recommend to fans of the novel and mini series but lower your expectations. Especially fans of the book. They don’t get Lynchian with it which kinda sucks for those of us who like wild and weird shit in their movies. No Turtle, no macroverse so expect no ritual of Chud etc.

    It was just ok nowhere near the masterpiece the collective web is proclaiming it is. With that said…bring on part 2!

  6. Not bad. I thought the change in the structure (Vern, you were right the first time that the book intercut between the two time periods the whole time) had some good points and bad. You lose the foreboding feeling of knowing that It didn’t get defeated by the kids and the dread of all the adult versions knowing they’ll have to face It again. I think it’s going to be hard to get people as invested in the adult versions when they’re so separated from their childhood selves. The book’s structure did a great job of making both versions feel like the same people. That’s hard enough to do on film when by necessity the parts need to be played by two actors. I suppose they’ll have flashbacks, but that’s not as satisfying as seeing the two timelines run parallel to each other. For once, I wonder if a more Nolan-y approach would have been better.

    But I said there were upsides to the changes, and the main one is that you get to spend more time with the kids. The build-up to their facing It had much more room to breathe in this version than in the miniseries, where they had to keep cutting back to the Battle of the Network Stars every seven minutes. The one character who suffers for that is Mike, who was basically our guide through the first half of the book. We got to know him well enough in the present that it didn’t matter as much that he didn’t figure as much into the childhood action as the others. Sadly, without his presence tying together the framing material (and with his role as town historian usurped by Ben) it just feels like yet another underwritten, marginalized black character. That’s a curiously tone-deaf choice in 2017, but not as curious as the decision to change Bev from the team’s primary offensive weapon into the third-act hostage/MacGuffin. I’m not that mad about but really? That’s your big idea? “Let’s have all the boys have to rescue the girl”? King knew that was some tired shit back in the fuckin’ 80s.

    Also the whole “We all float down here” thing was taken too literally in my opinion. Takes the poetry out of it.

    But still, IT was pretty decent. The book is one of my top two favorites ever so I’m never going to be able to fully separate the version in my head from the one on the screen, but I’m mostly satisfied. I’m also happy to have a horror movie in the theaters that’s actually trying to be a thrill ride and not just 90 minutes of sound design. The fact that everybody else is excited about it is also very welcome. Horror, like a certain evil clown, needs to rejuvenate itself every few years with the fresh screams of the young. It can’t survive on the bitter nostalgia of us old fucks forever.

  7. You could buy certain movie posters at record stores by the late ’80s, but it was for big stuff like BATMAN. You’re right, the movie’s rejection of Batmania ’89 is rewriting history. Otherwise, you’d need a connection at a movie theatre or video shop, which isn’t impossible, but if you were an average kid, GREMLINS and BEETLEJUICE one-sheets were hard to get ahold of pre-internet.

    I find the soundtracks in a lot of retro-80s stuff like this and STRANGER THINGS a bit false, too. The times are always idealized to make it look like school kids listened to The Smiths and The Cure, instead of Weird Al and Milli Vanilli. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher had to put a moratorium on people lip-synching “Kokomo.” KOKOMO!

    That said, I liked this. IT was the first adult book I ever read. I powered through all 1,093 pages over two months in sixth grade, and it really connected with me then.

    The most refreshing thing about this movie version (which could use a tighter and more lyrical edit) is how empathetic/compassionate it is toward childhood trauma. There’s a difference between portraying and promoting sadism that’s lost on lesser horror films.

  8. The detachment of The Losers Club kids to Batmania was not something that even occurred to me while I was watching this. Maybe I was detached? And BATMAN was a big deal to me and a lot of my friends back in 89. Maybe these kids were too detached to even notice what was going on in the pop-culture world, what with their battles against bullying and abuse and manipulation. I guess the point of nostalgia (for me) is to remind me of the good times I had with friends and family before I encountered my very own Pennywise, who came in the shape of a father-figure/mentor. At some point in all of our lives, during our teens especially, we encounter evil in some form – an abusive parent, a heartless and cruel bully, the death of a loved one, a sexual predator, a family breakdown.

    And we all have our own desires attached to nostalgia. Mine is for a time of innocence, for example. Others might be for a sense of security, when all was well in your world. I love nostalgia. It’s the other side of that coin where the abuse and wounds and heartache became a mark on our lives, with all the fears it created that kept attracting Pennywise in his various incarnations. You best believe, old Satan Clause is still out there. I try not to get too sentimental about it, but nostalgia gives me a weapon, a sword to cut through the fog of less-happy times. It reminds me that all will be well in the end.

  9. I refused to believe that there was a time in this great nation where children actively lip synced to “Kokomo.”

    I haven’t seen this yet, but I did pretty much set aside August to read the book, and it sounds to me that splitting the story into two movies makes sense. I do think the adult story line will be harder to adapt. The majority of the plot takes place with the kids. On the other hand, this opens up a lot of space for the filmmakers to invent and really make the movie their own.

  10. I remember singing “Kokomo” in music class in like fifth grade. It was a dark time.

  11. Maybe they tried to get the rights to Batman but WB only allowed them access to Lethal Weapon 2.

  12. I won’t be seeing this till this weekend so I’m happy to read here that it apparently is a good one.

    I hope the following will tide you over till you all can read my incredible thoughts on the movie:

  13. I only knew Kokomo from TV and stuff. No kid sang that shit at my school. Certainly not during kindergarten or 1st grade or any of that. They did sing Michael Jackson and Biz Markie’s Just A Friend though.

    I meant to say this before and forgot but this movie did do a good job with the old Stephen King trope of dysfunctional parent/child dynamics.

  14. “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” came out in 1988

    now that would have been the ultimate pop culture reference in this movie

  15. I saw this in a packed theatre on Monday. I genuinely loved it. My wife said it’s her favourite movie of the past few years and immediately bought tickets to see it again with her friends. It is The Goonies meets A Nightmare on Elm Street in a weird horror/kids adventure movie that really worked for me.
    The child actors were excellent across the board and was it just me or did the actors that played Henry Bowers, Mrs Kaspbrak, Mr Keene’s daughter and others, look quite a lot like Pennywise? I thought it was a cool way of portraying the pervasive evil that has been present in Derry since pretty much the dawn of time.
    I’m a big fan of the book (apart from the tone-deaf four pages of gang bang that takes place at the end) so I liked a lot of nods to things like the turtle and the werewolf on Niebolt Street. It was a shame that Mike got sidelined as much as he did in the film as in the book he is a bit of a history buff whose father regaled him with stories of old Derry. That seems to have been given to Ben in this film, which makes sense due to his love of the library and the fact that his engineering skills weren’t written in (totally fine with that as all the building montages would have made this three hours long).
    Beverly Marsh is pretty well served by being pretty much the second-in-command and doing things like throwing the first stone to protect Mike, impaling Pennywise with that fencing iron, and standing up to her abuser (did she kill him?) but less well served by needing rescuing in the climax. The hair cutting scene is very strong though.
    I thought the film did a great job of balancing disturbing imagery of children getting brutally murdered with the coming-of-age stuff and a bunch of comedy. That’s a pretty precarious tonal tightrope to walk and I thought they did it perfectly.

  16. I’ll see this tomorrow. Very relieved to hear they took the pre-teen gangbang bit out … what in the hell was that even in the book for? I don’t remember it serving much plot purpose that I could detect … it just seemed like King wanted to squeeze in a sex scene with children for whatever reason. I read the novel shortly after it was published but don’t remember it all that fondly; perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised compared to those who have an attachment to the book. I do think this was at the point when King started having difficulty carrying his stories right through to the end … it’s a good, suspenseful setup, but just falls apart towards the end. I mean, the villain is a (SPOILER, I guess) multi-dimensional space spider?

    One thing I did enjoy in the book is the Patrick Hockstetter character … shame he isn’t in it.

    Anyway, this review makes me hopeful it’ll be a good watch.

  17. Looking forward to seeing IT tonight. I am not too concerned about the spaceturtle and the cosmic stuff being left out. That stuff reads incredibly well thanks to Kings ability to evoke imagery through words and really stretches your imagination. The battle of the minds the ritual of Chud would not be impossible to film by any means. Especially not todays technology. But those introspective scenes belong in literature and as I previously stated King occupies himself purely with his chosen medium and has little concern for the problems that arises when some poor schmucks takes his material and make it work.

  18. Well said Shoot, it’s also why the film is stronger for not having things like the mummy that Ben sees, the living Paul Bunyon statue, or the giant bird that attacks Mike. Cool on the page, probably silly on the screen.

  19. RE: Bedroom Decor

    In ’89 it was pretty easy to obtain movie one sheets via mail-order from a company called Script City. Personally, I had one-sheets from Pink Floyd: The Wall (the movie), Beat Street, Big Trouble in Little China, and Transylvania 6500. I also made a couple bucks ordering one-sheets for other people.

    With that said, bedroom decor for movie teenagers is something that always drove me a bit crazy. Take any John Hughes movie for example. Every character’s bedroom has it’s walls covered with the coolest, most eclectic shit imaginable, with nary a hot rod, bikini chick, or beer ad to be seen.

  20. I loved this, one of my favourites of the year.

    I read the book a month ago. I felt like this was a take on the source material that made sense. They made it so Pennywise was the weirdest element in the film, whereas in the book he/she is just one of many crazy things in an ongoing extradimensional cosmic war. I think that was the right call for this one, and something they’ll revisit for part 2. I think part two is gonna be weird as hell.

    I didn’t find it scary, but some of the jump scares were effective. My gf cried, cos it really got to her, so I guess terror really can be subjective. Weirdly tho, for a film I wouldn’t say is scary it really does have some potentially iconic horror images and moments – the headless boy down the stairs is gonna be iconic. Pennywise’s fridge unfolding… iconic. The balloon triangle in the backyard is already touching iconic status. These images are gonna last, and I think the film will too.

    The CGI was amazing in places, bafflingly bad in others. That’s part of it being a 35 million film I guess, as when taken as a whole it looks as good as things that cost three times that. The tower of bodies and stuff in its lair i thought looked incredible. I heard that they’re gonna look to make a 4-hour cut that jumps from the adults to the kids once Part 2 is done, perhaps they will catch some of the CGI in the re-edit.

    In any event, I hope they lock the behind the scenes people down for the sequel. The cinematographer, the set designer, all those people, they did an amazing job.

    I thought they did a good job with Richie too. I love Stephen King but I very rarely find his attempts to be funny or to add humour into his books work. Book Richie is unfunny but all his friends in the book think he’s funny as hell. They flip that around here, and that is a masterstroke IMO. He gets really funny lines, but no one around him acts like the joke really landed, and they usually leave him hanging. That sort of touch turns something funny into something really, really funny.

    The jokes really lift the movie I think – they turn a horror film that isn’t that horrifying into something that seems to balance different tones well, and that becomes its USP. It doesn’t have that lingering, stifling dread that The Shining has, or The Exorcist, but it has something they don’t in return.

    Also the kid doing Eddie did an amazing job, stand-out performance imo. I think the director must really have a touch with actors, cos the ensemble cast here is bafflingly strong. It’s not the sort of film that wins those ensemble cast awards, but whatever does win this year won’t have a cast this good, I bet. I bet you anything.

    BTW Vern, they don’t go to an adult about Ben’s injury as they don’t want his really over-protective mum to find out. We sort of see that with Eddie, as his injury they can’t hide and it leads to the end of the group for a bit. Ben and his mum have a similar dynamic. If Ben had been taken out of the group at that point they hadn’t really solidified the bonds yet, so they may never have got it all back together.

  21. According to what I’m reading here, my initial instinct that the most realistic depiction of what’s on a teenager’s wall is depicted in the liner notes (and later the movie adaptation) of The Who’s QUADROPHENIA. Nude women interspersed with some pictures of his (in this case the main character of the story Jimmy) favorite band.

  22. It is kinda odd they didn’t put any Batman stuff in too considering this is a Warner movie, and all of the movie posters in it were Warner movies. Seems it very easily could’ve been thrown in. Perhaps the director, not growing up in the US, wasn’t aware of Batmania???

  23. I’m just bummed they didn’t complete the 80s retrofitting by changing the movie Richie gets menaced by from I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (starring then-TV star Michael Landon) to TEEN WOLF (starring then-TV star Michael J. Fox). Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Also they could have put Richie in a “What are you looking at dicknose?” t-shirt and had it be more than an easter egg because it would be, like, thematic and stuff.

  24. Mike’s background made me think of Charles Burnett’s KILLER OF SHEEP–I wonder if that was intentional? If so, it’s kinda ironic considering how marginalized his character and the black people in the town felt in relation to this movie. Even the sly critique of the psychopath bully’s father being a cop is a bit DETROIT-y i.e. making a point about oppression without giving a lot richer humanity to the oppressed beyond the fact of oppression.

    I enjoyed IT. I didn’t find it scary or exactly suspenseful in part because of the clear formula, but like others have said, some of the imagery was really strong and can still picture it. I do wish the ending was better/made more sense since it feels like they could’ve pushed that more. My gf was a lot higher on IT than me, as she really loved it (didn’t read the book either.)

  25. I thought this was a really good adaptation of (half) the book. I had some minor issues (the bullies getting shortchanged, making Ben the town historian, a lack of home life stuff for most of the kids) but overall I absolutely loved it. And the kid who played Georgie was amazing. The stuff with him and Bill tore my fucking heart out.

    I was a little unsure of Skarsgård’s Pennywise at first. Tim Curry played a great creepy clown who still looked like a real clown. But then I realized Skarsgård’s take was more of an alien creature TRYING to be a clown. And the results are really fucked up and weird.

    I knew stuff would change for the adaptation, so all I was really concerned with is if they sold the relationships between the kids and I think the film absolutely nailed that. It deviates quite a bit from the book, but it feels right in spirit. And Bev was easily the most badass of the Losers, which is the way it should be.

    I’m really looking forward to part two. Apparently they’ll be bringing in the Ritual of Chüd stuff (which is some crucial shit in my opinion) and I’m hoping they go all in on the psychic battle shit and don’t just do a repeat of part one’s ending and just have them beat the shit out of a big sp(oiler)ider.

    (And goddamnit there had better be a spider)

    Also, I thought the effects were pretty damn good for a 35 million dollar budget. And it’s beautifully shot.

    I’m not the type who usually gives a shit about box office, but as a lifetime King fan and horror in general it warms my fucking heart to see this thing making serious money. Especially since it’s actually good.

  26. I really enjoyed this but unfortunately did not find it even a little bit scary. Maybe I’d get more mileage out of it if I was one of those people who are terrified by the mere sight of a clown but I’m not.

    I’m really interested in seeing who the 40 year olds they cast for part two are going to be. I mean, it’s a no-brained that they’ll try to get Amy Adams for Bev, right?

  27. Dtroyt, the director/producers have already spoken about wanting Jessica Chastain for Bev. Assuming they can pay her and she has time free soon enough she’ll be a lock.

    They’re definitely gonna sound Chris Pratt out for Ben as well, as I guess they need to find someone who is sweet as well as pretty hot. IT’s massive box office probably means they’re gonna be able to afford bigger stars than we might’ve got otherwise.

    Maybe Joseph Gordon Levitt for Eddie while you’re at it.

    Bill is a tough one to cast. Corey Stoll someone who’d fit the book Bill well, but he might not be a big enough name now.

  28. I don’t think they need big names, though. This was huge without any big names, and people will want to see the conclusion regardless of star value. I do expect Chastain though because she starred in MAMA.

  29. Steven-

    I suppose Chastain works. I really like her. I just thought the girl who played Bev seemed very Amy Adams-y. Pratt could be a good Ben, especially since he was also a little chubby before he got Marvelled.

    I’m most interested in Richie. The kid was great and it can be tricky to pull off likeable asshole like that.

  30. steven:

    Corey Stoll would be perfect as Bill. Nice suggestion.


    I guess Chastain seems like the obvious fan-casting choice, with her previously working with the director, etc.

    I’ve seen some fan suggestions for Richie on the internets. My favorite suggestion was Bill Hader. I think it would be a be a smart idea to cast a comedian in that part. One, the character is a comedian so that’s kind of a no-brainer. And two, I think a lot of comedians are capable of doing drama really well. I think Bill Hader has that quality.

    But maybe we’ll end up with James Franco or something, who knows.

  31. Hader is a great choice. He’s got one of the best joke deliveries in the world, but he’s not just a clown, you buy him as a real guy.

    Now I’m realizing Kirsten Wiig looks way more like the young Bev than Chastain does. Maybe they should repeat the miniseries’ casting conceit and fill most of the roles with comedians? Chris Pratt would be a decent Ben (though he would likely overwhelm the project at this point–Ben is important but he’s far from the star), Jordan Peele for Mike, Seth Rogen for Stan (nobody would ever see the thing that happens to him coming), Adam Scott for Eddie. Maybe Bill could be your standard wet-eyed wiener protagonist Tobey Maguire type. That guy’s a writer, man, he’s got no sense of humor.

  32. As someone who hasn’t seen it yet (this Saturday, looking forward to it) my dream cast for the adult versions of them is Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Dave Bautista, Cynthia Rothrock (or Charlize Theron), Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jean-Calude Van Damme, and recast Brad Douriff as an older grizzled Pennywise.

    I dunno, it’s been a while since I read the book or saw the TV-movie/mini-series/whatever

  33. I don’t hate it.

    Adkins = Bill
    White = I’m not gonna insult your intelligence
    Stone Cold = Ben
    Theron (Rothrock is in the wrong age bracket) = I’m pretty sure you see where I’m going with this one
    Bautista = Richie
    Van Damme = Eddie
    Special appearance by Jon Bernthal as Stan

    I love Dourif more than I love most of my relatives but if we’re doing action IT we need an action Pennywise. So I’m going with Yayan Ruhian. Or possibly the RZA.

  34. Actually if we’re allowing Van Damme in there it’s just sexist not to let Rothrock at least audition.

  35. Actually definitely the RZA.

    Or maybe Yayan Ruhian VOICED BY the RZA.

    Or maybe they both play Pennywise in different scenes.

    Maybe also sometimes he’s Nathan Jones.

  36. I was all set to see this on Sunday, then got there and it was sold out. Shame on me. I’ll catch it later. I can wait it out til another window of opportunity comes.

    I was watching a certain movie criticism video show that I’ll not name, and although they were net positive on the film, their biggest criticisms seem to dovetail with some remarks Vern or others have made. The first thing they said was that the film relied too heavily on the more manipulative jump scares that are in fashion now, basically quick cuts and sound effects. The second thing they criticized was that there were no discernible rules to the IT-verse as far as why things go down the way they do, how you live or die, what is permanent vs. reversible, etc. not always following a consistent rhyme or reason. The rules felt a bit arbitrary or inconsistent, whereas, for example, in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 1, the rules are pretty clear: If Freddy hurts you in a dream, it’s for real; if you’re holding something in a dream (including Freddy), you can pull it out of the dream into waking life; Freddy cannot on his own initiative enter the real, non-dream world.

    The conclusion these guys drew from this is that IT is more or less serviceable, but it will not stand the test of history as a great horror film because it’s relying too much on manipulative scares vs. truly substantial horror that stays under your skin or gets you thinking. This seems consistent with Vern’s comment of liking but not sure he’s loving it.

    As someone who hasn’t seen it yet, I’m not sure what to make of all that, but I’ll adjust my expectations downward a bit, and I’ll see what I see when I see it.

  37. I just saw it. It was good but it wasnt scary ever.

  38. btw the sequel should be called IT’S TIME FOR REVENGE

    Stern: As someone else who has not seen the movie I will say every time a new genre-movie comes out and
    is mostly really well-liked or outright loved you some snobs and/or genre-nerds who are quick to come in and say ‘It’s not a new classic like the ones that came out when I was a youngling.” Doesn’t mean they’re not right but I always tend to proceed with caution with self-appointed fan gatekeepers cause most of the time I guarantee you that they would’ve been saying that isn’t a new genre classic if they were their current age when they it came out.

  39. I’m sorry I meant to @ Skani, NOT Stern who hadn’t even posted yet. Sorry!

  40. That may be so, GJ. As long as it’s fun and has some re-watch value, I’ll be happy. As someone who saw the mini-series way back when but has not read the book, I’m not bringing any particular agenda, just hoping to enjoy it but trying not to get my hopes up too high.

  41. The whole “they don’t make ’em like they used to” ideology frustrates me to no end. I strongly agree that it’s usually more a product of the observer’s dwindling enthusiasm and dawning apathy than any objective trend.

    That said there are a lot of rigorous cultural scholars round here that come by their opinions honestly so let’s take it on a case by case.

    Regarding IT Chapter 2. Are they really going to do it? Sure there’s some action in the adult storyline but it’s 90% a framing device through which we hear the events in the kid timeline and also various vignettes from Derry history. It really feels like telling the kids’ story in its entirety means they’ve already adapted the fucking book.

    “On the second movie, that dialogue between timelines will be more present,” [Muschietti] said. “If we’re telling the story of adults, we are going to have flashbacks that take us back to the ‘80s and inform the story in the present day.” ….but these flashbacks have narrative thrust in the book because we don’t know how they resolve right? I don’t get it.

  42. I am curious to how those video review dudes thought of It Follows since the complaint people have is that it follows no rules. BTW, it’s a silly argument to have.

  43. I liked how in the basement scene with Bill, Pennywise comes up out of the water revealing he’s working phantom Georgie like a puppet. But did you notice how at the end of that scene, when he basically justs falls forward on the stairs, it appears he’s dragged back out of the shot like a puppet himself? In that shot, I pictured the spider wielding him like we saw him wielding Georgie and got a kick out of that.

    Really enjoyed the film. They were playing the TV movie on cable that night, so of course I had to stay up and watch it to the end. I’d forgotten very nearly everything about the part with the adult versions of the characters. Read the book years ago, and I too found the gang bang scene stuck out like a sore thumb. Glad they ditched it.

    People seem confused by the floating victims, but I thought it was pretty clear they were there to feed the monster for the next 27 years while it lays low. IT doesn’t just feed on fear, there’s a line where IT says it feeds on flesh as well.

    One more thing: did it appear to anyone else that the actor playing Henry shot the scene where he walked to the mailbox with the balloon in reverse, i.e., walking backwards? If not, he did a great job selling that he was in a trance in the way he moved.

  44. I think the question of whether the film is scary or not is beside the point. There are a lot of jump scare moments, a reliance on loud sound design and whatnot, but I think there are plenty of genuinely creepy moments too.

    Honestly, I don’t care if the movie is scary or not. What’s most important about the film are the characters and the shit that affected me the most were the emotional moments. There is a genuine sweetness about the relationships between the kids that I found touching. And I got a real feeling of satisfaction watching this group of misfits beat the shit out of a shapeshifting clown (those spider/crab arms were fucking awesome, by the way).

    Also, some of the creepiest stuff for me was how most of the adults were portrayed as weirdo perverts who could almost be aliens passing as humans themselves.

  45. caruso- Yeah I liked that about the portrayal of the adults. A good way to summarize in a very short amount of time the film has to convey a sense that there is something very wrong in Derry. The pharmacist was a real fucking creepoid.

    I liked the movie. Unfortunatley the horror stuff mostly fell flat, with a few exceptions, and I had such a good time with the kids that I almost wished they remade STAND BY ME with the IT kids instead. The horror stuff got in the way actually for me, because it was never ever truly scary.

    And Pennywise was way overexposed. It seemed he almost appeared in every scene, although that is not true. But I guess they wanted to have as much creepy clown imagery as possible since that is what people mostly associate with the material. But the repetetive and conventional horror movie sound design did not help. And frankly by the end, I was slightly bored when they were walking around the sewers. And the confrontation was kinda meh, although I liked how IT took different forms in shapes of the individual kids fears. That was pretty dope.

    There were some creepy imagery from time to time and the fact that the theatre was absolutely packed with people laughing and screaming was a fantastic experience. People actually applauded wwhen the movie ended. They knew they had a good time. And so did I.

    It is a far fucking better King adaptation than THE DARK TOWER. By the way, am I the only one here who saw THE DARK TOWER? You peeps have been pretty quiet about it. But, I guess the least we talk about that film the better.

    I wonder if I see it next time if I have the same lukewarm response to the the horror scenes, because I otherwise really liked it. I was pleased.

  46. Man, I guess I’m kind of a wuss. This movie had a number of scenes that genuinely sent shivers under my skin. For example, as computery as the rendering was, the Modigliani monster just scared the shit out of me, especially in its first appearance. Ditto for the headless egg-monger.

    When I saw the trailers I thought the design of Pennywise was kind of dumb. To me it looked like a big, dead doll’s head. I don’t think that anymore. I think the actor really brought that character to life as a gross, weird, hungry Thing-like creature. Vern’s description of him as a kind of hyena is really good.

    I like the movie’s theme of some unspeakable immemorial crime that delivers a curse on a town. And I liked how it implied themes of memory and imagination. That the thing that allows the children to feel the fear that the adults do not is that, paradoxically, they cannot totally forget the horrors of the past and the recurrent violence of the present. The adults are all frozen in some weird pattern of neurotic behavior while only the children can laugh and play pranks and write poems and read history and fight for justice and, yes, fear.

    IT was kind of like SILENT HILL for me, except much more interestingly written and better acted. SILENT HILL was cool, but I thought IT was damn good.

  47. The headless kid dropping the eggs was a great moment.

    The leper was also a really great CGI/makeup effect.

    That painting was a goddamn nightmare. What kind of maniac would hang that on their wall?

    The Pennywise slideshow stuff was the most genuinely creepy part for me. That shit made me super uncomfortable. And I liked when giant Pennywise crawled out of the screen like something out of an ELM STREET movie. It was ridiculous and a nice tension-breaker.

    The monster-Pennywise stuff was pretty effective too. When Bev runs that fucking post through his head and he gets genuinely pissed for the first time was a great moment. I also loved Bev’s totally authentic/kinda funny “this is fucking gross” reaction. Sophia Lillis is a genuine goddamn Star in this film. I’d like to see where she goes from here.

    This whole post is shit. All the uses of “pretty” and “genuinely” and shit. I need a fucking thesaurus.

  48. Shoot:

    I fully intended to go see THE DARK TOWER even though I knew I would absolutely fucking hate it. Ultimately I decided my money could be better spent elsewhere. I have no regrets.

  49. caruso- I only had to pay half the ticket price when I saw THE DARK TOWER, so it only half-sucked.

  50. I think everyone was right when they said they might not need big stars, I take it back and on reflection Chastain probably could end up being the biggest name they go with.

    Pratt would be perfect for Ben, but yeah maybe he would over-power the film. It’s a pity as it has been a while since he’s landed a role that really fitted him well outside the Guardians movies, and this could be a good one for him. If he’d never done a film after Parks and Rec it could’ve been a star-making turn for him.

    It is interesting to me how much discussion we’re getting about it being scary. For me, I think this film is meant to be about a shapeshifting gas cloud man that scares 12 year olds. There is no doubt that you’d lose your shit if any of that stuff in the film happened to you. The book and film are about people seeing shit that scared them in films come to life.

    A lot of the time in horror films we are more scared than, or get scared prior to, the people on screen are – like we know something they don’t, that they’re in danger. IT is kind of the opposite of that.

    I think the film functions as it is meant to. The book for instance, with the werewolf and retro-mummy, is goofy as all hell when it comes to the kids being terrified. But it works as we care about the characters, so we care that they got scared, even if it was by something that goofy. So I think the movie making us care about the characters first and foremost gets it dead right. I’d much rather have the shot of Ben’s eyes peeking up at Bev from below his yearbook than, i dunno, something akin to the creepy dog man in The Shining.

    Dunno if I’m making a ton of sense, but i think a lot of this baggage it is inherent in the material. It’s subjective, not trying to say people aren’t watching the film in the right way or whatever. Have really enjoyed reading all the comments!

  51. I thought it was a decent good time. Good atmosphere, convincing special effects, and a creepy performance from Skarsgard.

    I’m a bit surprised about the sidelining of Mike. Normally I’m not too bothered about casting issues like this, but let’s face it, in 2017 the Twitter Hate Mobs are alert for these kinds of “problematic” marginalized roles. (Has Twitter cared? I don’t know. Maybe horror movies don’t count.) And to be honest I think the writing of this character is strange here, especially since – as far as I can remember – he had a much bigger role in the book.

    Another issue I have – not really specific to this movie (e.g. PROMETHEUS) – is that I wish scriptwriters and directors would have people behave more like recognizable human beings. I mean, I know King’s thing is that children are much more open-minded than us stuffy adults, but really …? A giant killer clown with shark teeth explodes from the wall while you’re having a group meeting and after the initial scare wears off, you back off five feet and stand in the doorway to continue the discussion? I’d probably want to walk down the driveway first.

    And those bullies. Were they reading “Bullying for Dummies” or something? That Henry guy would just be too angry to function in the real world, I think. He still has to sit in French class conjugating verbs and in math class trying to solve trigonometry problems … I could just see this guy jumping across the tables to bash his teachers’ heads in. But obviously not.

    I didn’t get the floating bodies. They were able to rescue Beverly from the floating state, so wouldn’t they try the same thing with some of the others? Maybe they could get Ben to go around kissing and reciting poetry to other bodies to see if they’d wake up. I’m sure Bill would want to give it a go with Georgie. (And given that Beverly woke up from her trance, wouldn’t he have had some doubts about firing a bolt into fake-Georgie? Lucky it was the giant space spider clown after all.)

    And although Derry may be the nexus of all evil, it’s nice to see that bike theft isn’t any kind of issue. Not in 1989 anyway.

    Other than that, and some other similar quibbles, a good piece of horror fluff.

  52. Dude there’s no way Henry takes French and Trig

  53. “That Henry guy would just be too angry to function in the real world.”

    Derry isn’t the real world. Henry and the bullies and even the teachers are all under the thrall of It. That’s just how it is in Derry. The bullies are encouraged to be even crueler than they would be anywhere else, and the adults are encouraged to ignore it. It’s like a trance the whole town is in. The Losers are the only ones who can see that Henry is a real threat, just like they’re the only ones who recognize It for what It is. The over-the-top nature of the bullying is a feature, not a bug. It’s meant to show that It has infected every single inhabitant of Derry who has passed out of childhood, Henry and his posse included.

  54. Am I wrong about this, but it seems to me that everybody here really liked it? Usually there is always some contrarian. But this seem to have gone down well you folks just as it did with me. I love that!

    I never got the floating thing in the movie either. And frankly not in the book either. It was just an eerie expression that never made much sense beside creeping you out. That they went that literal is a bit weird, but nevertheless. A fun spooky ride.

  55. “Usually there is always some contrarian.”

    Don’t worry, Shoot. I see it Saturday so there is still hope for there to be one asshole contrarian!*

    *Not really, I’m looking real forward to it (thus I’m ‘in the mood’ for it and usually when I’m ‘in the mood’ I’m way more lenient and positive (example: I kinda like the WORLD WAR Z movie cause I saw it when I was jonesing for a zombie movie) and if I end up being ‘that asshole’ I’ll abstain from commenting (at least my opinions) like I did with BABY DRIVER.

  56. Numpty:

    To be fair, Georgie was having a casual conversation with his arm off so it’s really not surprising that Bill wasn’t fooled.

    Why Eddie’s mom wears a fat suit when she’s just sitting around the house is a mystery though. What is she hiding under there? Candy?

    As for the other floating kids, they were already dead and I thought I saw some dismembered limbs up there. All the poetry in the world can’t put a leg back on a body, as my mother used to say.

  57. geoffreyjar- not to put any pressure. But you´d have to be an asshole to at least not enjoying hanging around with the kids. The horror stuff is debatable. But if you look at it as some haunted house attraction at an amusement park you´ll find much to enjoy.

  58. “Really liked it” is a stretch. I liked it. That’s about all I feel comfortable committing to for now.

  59. Fine. be pennywise with your approval.

  60. caruso_stalker217

    Good point, I forgot about that. But did Pennywise forget about that too? Seems he could have left the arm on. Bill didn’t know about that.

    renfield and Mr. Majestyk

    Well okay, okay … I was just trying to make a point there. I don’t know enough about the American education system to know what non-academically minded 16-year-olds do at school. Metalwork class? I still think the way he was acting he’d be too out of control to keep out of trouble, even with a policemanofficer father and even in a place like Derry. But I’ll let it go.

    But if everyone’s so evil in Derry, I still think someone would have taken the opportunity to be a little bit evil and driven over the bikes that keep getting abandoned in the middle of the road.

  61. i’ve been having a miserable time of it of late and i’m endeavouring to abstain from commenting here unless i have something positive to contribute so i don’t sully these fine boards with a bunch of negative bullshit. hence my lack of comments regarding IT.

  62. Hey Mixalot, someone has to be Shoot’s contrarian.

  63. Couple of weird points.

    1. I work at an elementary school and a lot of kids still don’t lock up their bikes and this town is similar in many ways to Derry.

    2. I’m sorry caruso but you can’t just brush off whether or not the horror is scary. It is still made to scare the audience. To me they didn’t scare me at any point so it was unsuccessful in that regards. I do think they did a great job of making the kid’s relationships great so I think we could agree on that one.

    3. It’s so weird, the more I think about It the more I both love and hate this movie.

    4. Speaking of weird, my wife might be a sociopath as she thought every traumatic thing that happened to the kids was hilarious. She laughed out loud when Georgie got his arm bitten off. It’s a good thing we aren’t having kids.

  64. Sterny- your wife sounds like a keeper.

  65. Actually, the more I think about this film the more I like it. Especially after THE DARK TURD this is a genuine masterpiece in comparison.

  66. Shoot, sociopathic tendencies aside, she’s an awesome wife.

  67. Shoot: You’re doing a very poor job of selling me on watching DARK TOWER when it comes out on home video.

  68. They should market it as a straight up porno with a not-so-subtle hint at Idris Elbas equipment. At least they would get some interested people renting it. The disappointment that follows is another matter.

  69. I tried to keep an open mind, but I lost all interest when I was told that The Man In Black spent most of his scenes yelling at his minions in a high-tech control room like the CIA chief in a BOURNE movie. I’m all for giving artists leeway when it comes to making adapted material their own, but I figure you’re either the kind of guy that knows THE DARK TOWER isn’t an evil control room kind of flick or you’re probably the wrong guy for the job.

    And that’s fine. I never asked for a DARK TOWER movie in the first place, so I’m totally cool with this film’s failure putting the nail in that idea’s coffin for the foreseeable future.

  70. I just created a Letterboxd account or whatever it is called. So whoever who wants to add me, well I´m guess I am there with my alias. Somewhere. Hook me up. Or not. I have no idea how this works. I might regret this.

  71. Just started following you after your post.

  72. How can I see it and how can I follow you?

  73. I’m there with this name too. Be forewarned before you add me though, I add everyone, so I’ll understand if I don’t get a follow-back from you.

  74. I added you. But I really have to get used to this system. Can you only have four favourite films?

  75. I have to say. This is kind of cool. I can follow what films you added and that way get pro tips on shit.

  76. The top 4 can be interchangeable to whatever you want it to be. I made a list of my top ten favorites, but you could list every single favorite if you wanted to. I’ve tried talking up Vern about Letterboxd before, saying it’s almost taken over IMDB for me as the movie site (aside from the news and a few other features which they haven’t utilized there yet).

  77. onthewall: You’ve been added to mine.

  78. We have become the VHS Losers Club

  79. I wish I still had all my tapes. I *groans* threw them all away, including a couple family ones.

  80. Thanks guys, both of you. I’ve been a bit dry for inspiration as far as writing reviews lately, I’m sad to say.

  81. I still got a few big boxes of VHS tapes. Mostly TV recordings (and…uhm…stuff that I copied from rental tapes…). Unfortunately because of a basement flood, I had throw at least 1/3 of my collection away, but nothing irreplacable.

    But let’s be honest: Fuck VHS! It’s the worst way to watch a movie. Even smartphones are better, because they are at least in HD and you don’t have to open the phone, untangle the movie and pay Netflix the destroyed copy, if the movie won’t play.

  82. My vhs collection consists of BREWSTER MCCLOUD and PUMP UP THE VOLUME. Has there ever been a widescreen release of Brewster? I don’t even know what aspect ratio it was filmed in. Would buy.

    I don’t have any romantic attachment to VHS but unless you were pausing on the nudie bits I think they held up better than the fucking scratch magnets that were DVD. Blu Ray seems weirdly immune to scratching though, is that really the case or just my anecdotal bullshit?

  83. I never, NEVER had a scratch on my DVDs (or CDs). When I rent movies, I sometimes receive DVDs that are full of fingerprints and scratches (but still working), although they were only out for a few days, while I own CDs that are now 25 years old (and DVDs that are almost 20 years old) and don’t even have one fingerprint on them, despite heavy use from my side. WTF are people doing with theirs?

    The 2nd Blu-ray I ever bought, a used copy of HAYWIRE, came with a scratch that makes it unplayable after 1 hour, though.

  84. John Carpenter directed this new CHRISTINE Music Video

  85. I have a whole cupboard full of VHS movies. Some of them VERY hard to get on dvd/blu, so I’m hesitant to throw them away. I never watch them, even if I have a player, but still…

  86. I tossed most of my VHS years ago and never looked back. The only tapes I kept besides home movies were the Star Wars trilogy, BEASTMASTER, some movie where David Hasselhoff has a puma, and a bizarrely copyedited budget import of KARATE WARRIOR retitled FIST OF POWER.

    You know, the staples.

  87. VHS had it’s advantages, mainly in that you could record anything and keep it. That didn’t transfer over to DVD technology very easy as I eventually discovered. I started taping a lot of stuff right around the time DVD was taking off oddly enough. I’d tape a lot of stuff off of VH1, mainly the episodes of STORYTELLERS with Pete Townshend and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I also had one with Charlie Rose interviewing Stanley Kubrick’s widow, his producer (her brother) and Martin Scorsese which you can find on CharlieRose.com now and I’d recommend to any fan of film.

    Before that, lots of wrestling being taped. Mainly PPV’s, as it was a good way of keeping a record of it because of how much it cost to buy it, and VHS tapes were an arm and a leg compared to DVD’s today. I miss those (and some of the HBO late-night stuff I had…) the most, along with the family stuff. I could kick myself for throwing them out now.

  88. only VHS tapes i’ve still got on deck are for films that have never received a fully uncut release in any other format for one reason or another (RAZORBACK, HELLRAISER, CANDYMAN etc). and a fan cut of the three EVIL DEAD films i made so that they ran together as one long movie, which worked pretty good until ARMY OF DARKNESS kicked in with its 20th Century Fox brand copy protection that made anything you tried to copy look like how gastroenteritis feels (i did legally own the individual tapes i was duping by the way so no need to call in the goons).

  89. I have long discarded my VHSes and many other physical items I used to have, I do not have the money or space to accommodate such things (also helps make my living space not a shrine to what a nerd I am). I still have access to some of my VHSes though, the only one I kinda want to keep is this one for WARRIOR OF THE WIND, a movie that will never ever get another (legal) release. Though that VHS is less special because a few months ago I found a fan-project where someone took the Blu-ray of the movie it was edited from and synced the audio up to it.

  90. I am imagining some Hollywood executive, sitting at his desk with a pile of cocaine and a Variety with a cover story about It’s huge opening weekend. He buzzes his assistant:

    “Get me a list of all the Stephen King books that haven’t been made into a movie yet, right away!”

    “Sir, they have all been made into movies.”

    “What, you have to be fucking kidding me, the guy has written, like, 300 books.”

    “I know sir, check out IMDB.”

    “Even this Dark Tower shit? There like ten of ’em”

    “Just came out last month, it was only out for a week.”

    “Fuck, time for some reboots, prequels, sequels. Let’s get to it!”

    I will bet bottom dollar that Chapter Two of It becomes “It Chapter Two, part one” and “It Chapter Two, part two” like Harry Potter and Hunger Games.

    My only dream is that maybe The Stand gets a Netflix mini-series treatment. If they can turn Mr. Mercedes into a ten episode series, the Stand can for sure last four years.

  91. Also, Elizabeth Olsen has to play adult Bev, I think.

  92. Jeff G, I’d be so up for a Stand adaption. If they wait 5 years I think IT’s Ben would make an excellent Harold.

    They should go for a 2-part movie, pretty much the IT model. Needs a budget and a half to make it work IMO, cos if you don’t capture the scale of the crisis you’ve lost the thread. Also I love movies more than TV, so that’s just my preference.

    It’ll be interesting to see if we do get a wave of King adaptions. Pet Semetary and Salem’s Lot have solid adaptions, but both have dated and approached the stories at enough of an angle to mean that there’d still be stuff to explore. They could make a lot of money done right.

    Bag of Bones could make a great movie too, shame the Pierce Brosnan one butchered the book. I’m not someone who hates it when an adaption isn’t faithful, but it boggles the mind when they half-ass the changes to mean that the story doesn’t make any sense.

    Also they should remake The Shining, as a movie, to piss off the internet nerds. Cast Lily Gladstone in Jack’s role, trust me.

  93. THE STAND but with a real ending. EYES OF THE DRAGON. I could stand to see updates of SALEM’S and SEMATARY as well.

    I will fiercely argue that there is no reason to ever adapt THE DEAD ZONE again, shit is fucking perfect.

  94. I’m watching it and like it, but it is astonishing they are getting ten hours out of Mr. Mercedes. This thing is moving at a snail’s pace.

  95. I was disappointed by IT. Mastor Troy (in the THE BURNING thread) is on point that this is “a prestige NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET” film. Actually, it’s “prestige NIGHTMARE” meets coming of age nostalgia porn a la STAND BY ME or STRANGER THINGS. It’s a solid 2.5 stars and a marginal thumbs up at best.

    I have no complaints about the characters, the look, the basic realization of Pennywise, the premise, or the performances. Also, the sequencing of events is coherent, etc. The problem is that it’s all breadth, no depth. All punchlines without sufficient set-ups and without an ultimate punchline that feels satisfying. It’s little more than a series of empty vignettes with a set of intriguing characters who mostly never get the chance to transcend their one sentence descriptors, and Pennywise just feels like he’s trying way too hard. He’s like the fucking Robin Williams of monsters. He makes late-period Freddy seem chill. Too many characters overstuffed into too little of a running time for much of anything to breathe or feel earned. We’re just zipping along bumping into Pennywise or Bowers or a creepy parent around every corner, adding a new Loser to the club with every Bowers encounter, etc. Very repetitive that way, like it’s just a couple of scenes playing on repeat with slight variations. I guess that’ll work for a later NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequel, but I expected more from this for whatever reason.

    Someone comments about a spell or sickness that has overtaken the adults of Derry, but it’s hard to really evaluate that claim, since there are apparently only four or five adults living in the town, most of whom are given maybe a 1.5 paragraphs of total dialogue. It’s like all the olds were raptured or something.

  96. I’m going to share some more thoughts of this film. My intent is not to nitpick or belabor my dislike, though it may amount to the same thing. Really, I’m thinking out loud, trying to get to the bottom of what it was that didn’t click for me the this first time through. Was it a bunch of little things, or was it more like one or two big general things that were underneath my more specific gripes? Still not sure. Also, it’s entirely possible that this baby will grow on me.

    I’ll start with some things I liked, keeping it at least somewhat positive.
    1. Pennywise looked great, and other than the Georgie getting his arm ripped off scene, which was some horrible CGI (an inauspicious start), the visual effects were first-rate. Every Pennywise appearance did some inventive and well-crafted visual effect.

    2. I enjoyed Bill Skarsgaard’s characterization of Pennywise. I think he’s a good person for the role.

    3. All the kid actors seemed well-suited for their roles and generally gave winning performances. Possibly with the exception of the kid who had to kill the sheep. His acting consisted mostly of shrugs and grimaces, it seemed.

    4. There were some genuinely poignant moments with the kids at the quarry, and the connection between Bill and Georgie felt sweet and real.

    5. The banter with the kids was mostly fun, especially the kid from STRANGER THINGS.

    Here’s what didn’t click

    1. The surrounding atmosphere is not creepy at all. It’s always daytime, the score surrounding the Pennywise encounters is not moody or ominous.

    2. Pennywise is not scary. He’s revealed from the beginning, we talks and mugs too much, and we see him too much. Looks cool, interesting performance, not at all scary. It is all jump scares, and I became almost instantly habituated to them. Contrary to what was said above, there is no lasting image that will stick me as viscerally terrifying, though there are a lot of cool images. Empty calories, no thrills.

    3. The coalescence of the expanded Losers Club feels flat and mechanical. They just wander around town, bumping into Bowers tormenting kids, then take those kids under their wing, collecting Losers like a snowball rolling down a hill. With the exception of the pre-existing relationship between Bill and the core Losers, which we take as given, and the relationship that develops with Bill and Bev, it’s not clear how these new bonds are being earned or cultivated or even how these kids keep bumping into each other. Even the Bill and Bev thing is only barely developed enough to feel earned.

    As I said in my original post, the film is just overstuffed with characters, each of whom needs to have some kind of private encounter with Pennywise and perhaps with an adult authority figure, and with as many kids as we have here, that’s a lot of screen time eaten up playing out the same basic beat, character after character: Pennywise is scary and parents just don’t understand.

    Problem is, most of these kids aren’t developed beyond their basic one sentence or one-adjective descriptions, nor are the bonds among them earned. It results in a diffuse and repetitive effort that lacks depth. Is Bill our main protagonist? If he is, he’s occluded by the clutter of other kids. Are all the kids supposed to be on equal footing? If so, that’s a lot people to track, vying for our affections. As I said, I like them all well enough, but didn’t get to know any of them beyond, “He lost his brother and stutters,” “He’s heavyset and likes NKOTB,” “She’s pretty and objectified,” “He’s Jewish, and that makes him different,” “He’s black and that probably makes him feel different.” There are some occasional nice little grace notes and flourishes, but not enough to make it feel like I’ve really connected to this gang.

    4. Where are the grown-ups and the extras? The town appears to keep running–there’s contemporary movies and arcade games at the cinema, there’s not garbage piling the street, kids are dressed and fed and have bikes. But it’s like there are only maybe 6 adults in the whole town who only ever come into the frame or even the background when there needs to be a creepy or stern encounter. Same with kids. Once school lets out, apparently the Bowers gang, the Losers Club, and that mean chick at the pharmacy are the only kids who haven’t left for summer camp. This place is like a ghost town. Someone mentioned that every adult in the town is under this curse or fog, but that’s not a sufficiently well-developed or explicit “rule.” The librarian and butcher both seem like pretty normal people doing their jobs, and the guy killing the sheep seems harsh but not cursed or under a fog. It’s just a town with only maybe 6 adults, and 2/3 of are sinister or creepy.

    6. What are the rules governing this town and the people in it. Sure, we know there are bad things that happen every 27 years, but beyond that we don’t get a sense of what is up with the town or whether and how Pennywise has adults under his spell. There is no indication that the police force is putting any resources into investigating all these disappearances (other than putting up signs, but it seems like that’s being done by random adults, not the police). Wouldn’t the FBI get involved at this point? This town is the size of the town I grew up in, and I don’t remember there ever being a missing or abducted child in my hometown.

    Someone mentions the SILENT HILL vibe, which is somewhat on point. The problem is that, whereas SILENT HILL makes it quite clear that it’s a kind of haunted, abandoned, cursed, alternate reality place, that’s never clear in IT. There are certainly some weird incongruities about Derry, sure: there aren’t many adults, the ones we see are mostly creepers (though not all), there’s this weird abandoned house that looks fake and straight out of SCOOBY DOO, and it’s clear that nobody seems to be doing anything about this epidemic of missing kids. But then there are other things that make the town seem pretty functional in terms of commerce and essential services happening. The town seems a bit off, but this never translates to an effectively creepy or distinctive atmosphere, it just feels like maybe they didn’t have the money or foresight to feature extras, or maybe they didn’t have the running time to illustrate how or in what way the adults are experiencing their lives or how or in what way Pennywise has a hold on some of them.

    7. What is Pennywise? Why does he appear as a clown? Why Derry? He could probably fare better in the city, I would think. How does getting beaten up by kids vanquish him? In what sense does he feed on fear? Equivalently, in what sense does not being afraid of him protect one from him? There are lots of bread crumbs to suggest a mythology (vs. Pennywise just being a creepy clown ghost), but there’s no sense of what that mythology is or why I should give a shit. A weird clown in a laughably “spooky” haunted house who can take on other forms and needs to kill and feed on kids every 27 years in a town where it’s apparently always daytime, there is collective acceptance of frequent child abduction, and all the kids are vaguely latch-key. That’s our mythology? That seems arbitrary, half-baked, and not particularly compelling. He’s a creepy clown, you guys, just go with it.

    Shoot, you can mail me that Contrarian Asshole of the Month Award.

  97. Also, why did the kids immediately recognize that they had a sacred duty to work together to clean up the blood in Bev’s bathroom. What did that little mini-montage serve to accomplish or communicate?

  98. “What is Pennywise? Why does he appear as a clown? Why Derry? He could probably fare better in the city, I would think. How does getting beaten up by kids vanquish him? In what sense does he feed on fear? Equivalently, in what sense does not being afraid of him protect one from him? There are lots of bread crumbs to suggest a mythology (vs. Pennywise just being a creepy clown ghost), but there’s no sense of what that mythology is or why I should give a shit. A weird clown in a laughably “spooky” haunted house who can take on other forms and needs to kill and feed on kids every 27 years in a town where it’s apparently always daytime, there is collective acceptance of frequent child abduction, and all the kids are vaguely latch-key. That’s our mythology? That seems arbitrary, half-baked, and not particularly compelling. He’s a creepy clown, you guys, just go with it.”

    This is where the restructuring of the story hurts the overall narrative. In the book, the story of the kids and the story of their adult counterparts run parallel to each other. As the kids’ story develops, the adults remember more of what happened to them as children, leading to more understanding of It and Its mythology, both for the characters and the reader. By separating the two halves of the story, the filmmakers left themselves with two undesirable options: 1. Reveal all the secrets in the kids’ movie and leave even less reason for the second movie to exist; or 2. Leave all that stuff mysterious and save all the reveals for the second movie. I think they made the right choice, but as your response and Vern’s to the seeming wishy-washiness of the “rules” and backstory proves, it came with a cost.

  99. You’re being willfully obtuse about that last one, though. That was your basic team-building montage. Why’d they help her? Because she was their friend and they all had crushes on her. Take It out of the equation completely and they’d do the same thing. You’re telling me that if a beautiful girl entered your group of lamewad dude friends out of nowhere and came to you for help, you’d be like, “Sorry, toots, that sounds like a you problem to me.” I don’t believe that. What did the scene accomplish? It showed to the audience and to each other that they could all see the blood (not very subtle metaphor for the dark curse with which Derry was stained and which only these kids, for whatever reason, were qualified to combat) and visually illustrated that they would stand together against it. It also developed the burgeoning love triangle between Bill, Ben, and Bev, which is admittedly not that big a deal to the overall story but does add more layers to the character dynamics that you were lamenting the lack of in your previous post.

    I know you’re just spitballing potential reasons for your dissatisfaction here, but that dog won’t hunt. Claiming not to understand this scene is some Cinema Sins shit. I get that the movie didn’t work for you overall, but even if you’ve never experienced the story before in any form that scene’s importance should be pretty obvious if you’re not going out of your way to poke holes in it.

  100. That makes sense, Majestyk. Not having read the book, but being aware of its length, I suspect you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s very dense with characters, spans a lot time, and there are just a lot of scenes and plot points, meaning it requires some real strategery and then some very delicate surgery in extracting a good film that works. It’s almost like you’d need to pitch this as a Peter Jackson-esque 9-hour, 3-year event deal, and obviously that was not a gamble these guys were prepared to take.

    And I do want to give the film props. It’s lean, fast-paced, and they do manage to give every member of the Losers Club some sense of back-story and private moments. The casting of the kids is great, and in most cases, I would watch a movie where any one of them is the main protagonist. Pennywise looks great, and I think Skarsgaard-misspelled does a commendable job of making the role his own. I certainly dug Pennywise, even if I wasn’t scared by him. There was enough good and intriguing here that I now want to read the book.

    Speaking of the book, I am self-consciously not letting the film off the hook for any backstory clues that would require knowledge of the book, since I think that this has to work first and foremost as a film unto itself, and only secondarily if at all as an adaptation of a revered work. It has the pass the “you don’t have to read the book to appreciate what’s happening” test. Back to THE SHINING, it maybe failed utterly as a faithful rendering of the book that captures its heart or essence, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s only obligation is to work as a self-contained film, which for me it does in spades. IT sounds like a bit more of the opposite problem: Does its very best to be faithful to the tone, spirit, and characters of the book, but struggles to pack it all into a 2 hr 15 minute running time.

  101. I may very well be obtuse, but it’s not willful. At that point in the film, the scene didn’t land for me.

  102. Skani: I recognize that I have an exceptional familiarity with the story in its other forms that makes understanding this version a breeze. But while I admit that this familiarity (as well as my knowledge of the recurring Kingian motif of the ka-tet, a group of people brought together by Fate [or some other, more nebulous higher power] for a specific purpose) makes it easier to swallow the way the Losers instantly formed an unbreakable bond. That said, I think there’s more than enough material in the film itself to show how and why these kids were so ripe for forming that bond with each other. Kids in general forge friendships far faster than adults do, and at that age those friendships seem more important and mythic than they do at any other age. On top of that, these specific kids were all outcasts, all distant from or actively hostile to their supposed support systems, and all experiencing something supernatural that they had previously thought they would have to face alone. If you wanted more, that’s your prerogative, but the film did more than enough to suggest why they would cling to each other fiercely and instantaneously without delving into any of the cosmic string-pulling of the source novel.

  103. It seemed like the main thing that drew the kids together was their shared torment by Bowers, which does follow a certain “enemy of my enemy is my friend” logic. It was just a little bit hokey for my taste that almost every corner these kids turn, there’s Bowers beating up or threatening to beat up some kid, and then and there that kid gets immediately drafted into the Losers Club. These kids can’t go anywhere without bumping into him, even when he’s not looking for them. It’s always that he’s preying on one kid, but then the rest of the gang always manages to intersect or happen upon the scene of where that’s taking place. They are like a Henry Bowers Bullying Support Group.

  104. Well, as you see in the movie, Bowers is under the thrall of It, too. So Bowers is like a synecdoche of It: a cruel, laughing jester who lives off of the fear of the weak from whom traditional authority cannot (or will not) save you. Standing up to him is what brings the kids together so that they can later face the greater evil of It.

    As for the episodic nature of the story, that’s left over from the source material, where those scenes were framed as flashbacks that the characters from the present were having upon being reminded of their blood oath to return to Derry. I agree that it’s a structure that works better in a book, which is by its very nature chapter-based, than a movie, especially one designed to be a thrill ride, which is expected to build its plot in a traditional three-act structure rather than through a diaspora of interconnected scenes. I too thought the film lost momentum in some spots because of the sheer breath of character-building it had to accomplish, but I think in the end all that repetition was worth it. If you’re not full invested in the naive magic that’s created from the alchemy of these people coming together for a common cause, the story just doesn’t work. Faster pacing would not have helped at all.

  105. Skani, your outsider points of view are interesting. But , seriously, read the book, You wont regret it

  106. Shoot, I semi-commit to reading at least 100 pages of the book, and then taking it from there. I also commit to re-watching the film.

    Majestyk, your comments are always pithy and incisive, and I appreciate that you don’t pull punches. It’s never clear to me that Bowers is in thrall to IT until he gets that package from IT. Prior that, what does the film give us to believe that he is in thrall to IT rather than being a sullen bully, which is a trope of films and lived experience even in towns that are not cursed by an evil clown. The claim that the parents and Bowers are under the spell of it seems like a residue people might be carrying over from the book and filling into blanks of the movie. In the movie, we have bullies and a mean girl, but we have those in most coming of age teeny movies. We also have weird adults, but it is a leap of inference to say that IT has any kind of psychic hold or contagion on them. It would have been very easy to subtly show how IT or

  107. …To show how IT or the contagion of some IT funk is exerting an influence or grip on people, but that’s never made explicit, and I would not even say it’s implied. It’s a credible enough reading, but it’s far from a slam dunk from the film itself.

  108. Exactly. 100 Pages is a solid hour, hour and a half at my reading speed. I’m not committing to 1400 pages sight unseen. The book has to pay as it goes. :)

  109. Well it is a committment to be sure. But since it is one of the quintessential Stephen King book and you´re into horror it may be of interest. Not only as a dissertation on the nature of evil but also what cocaine does to a creative mind when he writes about monsters, human or ethereal.

  110. I’m definitely intrigued.

  111. Skani, didn’t you say you were on letterboxd.com? How do I find you?

  112. I’m not sure, but my name is Skani there, and I don’t think there’s another Skani. There can only be one.

    Also, wait…so, Majestyk, is the idea that the Mr. Rogers-type kids show is somehow a mechanism by which IT hypnotizes the adults? I don’t think I was clear on whether the adults were actually watching that, or if it was just something the kids would see, like how only the kids actually saw that the room was bloody.

  113. That’s not something from the book, I don’t think, but I think the adults don’t even see it. To them it’s just some innocuous kids show that they barely even notice, just like they barely notice anything that has to do with the world of children. It’s right there in their face and they can’t (or won’t) recognize it.

    Now, this whole aspect of the adult world being completely if not willfully oblivious to the problems of their children makes a lot more sense when taken in context of the full story, which is less about some kids fighting a killer clown” and more about how childhood is its own world with its own rules and mythology, and how so much of what was important or even life-altering to us as kids is forgotten when we cross the line into adulthood. We see how the characters themselves become just like the adults who neglected them, completely wrapped up in their own grownup problems and totally unaware of the effect their deeply buried childhood trauma has on their current situation. After all, the adults we see in Derry were kids once. They lived through at least one of Its reign of terror at least. Many problem saw something they couldn’t explain at some point when they were on Pennywise’s radar, but they forgot when they grew up and feel no kinship toward the new generation and its own battle with the beast. This is not a new theme (It’s basically “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” with monsters) but it is a big part of what makes the overall story powerful, this depiction of the widening gap between our childhood selves and what we knew then to be true and our adult selves and what we have now convinced ourselves is the nature of reality. King ladles on mythology to turn subtext into text, but even without it, I think it’s clear in the film that childhood produces its own kind of magic that is the only antidote to the corruptive magic of It.

  114. You can also see how Henry plays into that theme perfectly. As a teenager, he has just recently crossed over the line from childhood. A few years earlier, he might well have been one of Pennywise’s victims. Now he’s got a foot in both worlds: He’s enough of a child to still be aware of It, but enough of an adult that he doesn’t see It for what It is anymore. That makes him a perfect accomplice for It and the perfect foil for the Losers: a dark emissary and warning from the heartless adult world they are a scant few years from entering.

  115. But how can one of the bullies from the Adrian incident in the novel actually see Pennywise? There were two seperate witnesses hat actually saw the clown? And neither were kids.

  116. Majestyk, I buy your thesis there and that it shows up in the film. Certainly, one of the things the film conveys effectively is the sense that adults and children are each living in their own worlds, sharing the same physical spaces but experiencing entirely different realities. So, I roger for your claim that this film is substantially about a kind of dichotomy or crossing over that happens from childhood to adulthood. A loss of innocence, wonder, and idle time; a progressive wearying, repetition, and loss of one’s individuality as one is ground up in the burdens and banalities of socially constructed adulthood, and the concomitant sense of plateauing, getting stuck, and coming into touch with mortality. In other words, yeah, the loss of the magic of childhood.

    Because the film identifies so heavily with the kids and these kids in particular and their perspective, that goes a long way toward explaining why the adults and the other kids (beyond Bowers and pharmacy girl) are so few and far between, so limited in their words, and so caricatured and one-note in their characterization. Is that an “objective” perspective of life in Derry, or is it a filtered perspective that is essentially giving a you the feel of how a Losers Club kid experiences Derry. That helps to explain some of it, even if I’m not entirely convinced. There was a smallness, a sparseness, and eerie quietness to Derry that seemed like it might be intentional, or it might have just been a failure to really flesh out the town and its adult world. It’s a very “psychology of the Losers Club” funhouse mirror sort of reality vs. anything approaching verisimilitude. Or is it?

    A related observation is the notion that childhood time moves differently than adult time. In my childhood, it was slower, more capacious. Sometimes agonizingly slow, sometimes deliciously so. It was taking a long time to grow up and mature and mortality seemed so abstract. It feels like it’s taking forever just to make it to Junior High, much less the nursing home. This film captures that sense of children living in their own sense of space, time, and possibility. Again, though, I just wanted more time for us to really experience that, let that breathe. That’s the irony: The movie wants to have its cake and eat it, too. It wants us to experience the spaciousness, wonder, free play, and poignancy of childhood but it wants to do it on an incredibly aggressive schedule, where nothing has time to linger or even fully play out. The pacing is rushed. There’s an irony there, I think, and I don’t think that’s intentional. It’s a bug, not a feature.

  117. Because they were teenagers like Henry, close enough to childhood to be able to perceive Pennywise but deep enough into adulthood to be used as accomplices instead of victims. Older adults can be influenced by Pennywise but not perceive him. Kids can perceive him but can’t be as easily influenced. Teenagers are right in that sweet spot.

  118. Skani: Yeah, now you’re getting it. Everything in Derry is both a metaphorical representation of how children view their world and something that is actually taking place because of magic and shit. It can all be explained literally and symbolically, which to me is what all storytelling should aspire to. You can experience the tale of IT completely at face value or completely as an analogy and everything still adds up.

    Well, except the much-derided “gangbang” scene from the book. That one works just fine on a metaphorical level (By defeating It, the children have passed over the line into adulthood and are now losing the bond that gave them their power, so they must now come together using one of the only forms of primal magic available to adults: sex) but you’re never going to make anyone believe that this is what these kids would do on a realistic, cause-and-effect level. The subject matter is too off-putting on the surface for anyone to want to look much deeper. I think it speaks to King’s immersion into the POV of his adolescent characters that I never once doubted that scene as a child. I accepted that these kids were sexual beings, as we all were at that age, and that what they did down there in the sewer that day had deep spiritual significance to them and wasn’t just exploitative. As an adult, it feels much ickier, because I’ve crossed the line myself and am now uncomfortable with being confronted with unapologetic adolescent sexuality. King has always been gifted at writing from a child’s point of view, so he wrote the scene from the inside looking out, where it was positive and life-affirming, but adult readers view it from the outside, where it was queasy and off-putting. If King made a mistake with that scene, it’s that it was perhaps always a fool’s errand to think that adults, blinkered by the fog of age and time and society and morals, would ever be able to see past the subject matter to the truth he was getting at. Even I, who understood what he was getting at, have a hard time believing the scene was worth the amount of attention it calls to itself, yet for the life of me I can’t think of anything else that would get the point across so directly.

  119. Okay, well, you’re stoking the fire for me to read the book, at least.

  120. For some reason I thought the bullies that killed Adrian were older than that. They were at least tried and convicted as adults.

  121. Ahh, now I looked it up in the book. The one among the bullies was convicted as a minor. That must have been him who saw Pennywise take a bit out of the homosexual guy they hrough off the bridge

  122. What is the Adrian incident?

    Majestyk, I’m going to have to ponder your claims about the role of Bowers in the film. I think that interpretation at least works, but there seems to be a lot read into it. Not all of the adults are creepers or bullies. The guy killing sheep is hardened, but seems grounded and not necessarily sinister. Likewise, the librarian is a bit stern, but she could be a standard stern school librarian. The butcher guy seems normal. Billie’s dad seems sincere. The adults seem variously creepy, weary, haunted, or inured, but then there are some that seem more on the normal side of things. And the initial scene of school letting out suggests that this is a typical school, with the bullies and the Losers called out in stark relief. But there’s no sense that people uniformly become monsters or zombies when they hit adulthood. Things are a little skewed, to be sure, but then again, it’s not clear how much of it is just the selective slice of Derry reality that the Losers are experiencing. I guess what I’m saying is that I kind of track this childhood-adulthood dichotomy, but our picture of the world of Derry beyond the kids’ immediate and deeply personal perspective is so slim and fragmentary, as is our grasp of Pennywise’s motivation and mythology, that it ends up feeling thin and fuzzy, not sufficiently rounded out or clear. The vibe of Derry and its denizens never rises beyond “vaguely off” and “sometimes downright sinister,” but that always seems to be localized to specific people, not an overall mood of doom or unreality.

    As for Bowers specifically being some kind of critical symbolic bridge figure, I’m not sure I see it. Every school has bullies. Not everyone who reaches a certain age becomes a bully, and not every bully becomes as full-on sociopath as Henry, and it’s not clear that Henry has any special connection to Pennywise that is fueling him or that he has been pressed into service to perform. He’s just an alpha bully. Prior to the scene with Bowers, and the package from Pennywise, and the final confrontation with his Dad, was there any point where Bowers saw Pennywise or where something he did led to an outcome that was favorable to Pennywise’s agenda? At the risk of inviting further charges of willful obtuseness, how does Bowers’s final confrontation with his dad or the rest of Bowers’s arc serve Pennywise’s ends? Frankly, other than serving as a foil to define the Losers and bring them together, which is a more general plot device (and a somewhat strained one at that), it’s not really clear to me how Bowers meshes with the mythology or the Pennywise plot. In their own ways, Bowers and pharmacy mean girl are on the more extreme dick-ish side of things, but so is Johnny from KARATE KID. From what I can gather, Bowers is a sub-plot antagonist who serves to grow the ranks of the Losers, inject some periodic menace, and then exit the film. He is largely orthogonal to Pennywise, intersecting with him from time to time and then eventually getting a hypnotic assignment from him, but it seems like a stretch to elevate him as some central symbolic bridge figure or archetype.

  123. I forget their actual ages, but I remembered they were young adults. Their character page on the Stephen King wiki lists them as teenagers, so I’m guessing there were 18 or 19.

  124. Yeah, that could be right. Still in their teens but still be tried and convicted as adults.

  125. Skani, I can recommend reading the book. Since this film is only half of the story and if you want the full picture before the next chapter comes out now is the perfect opportunity. You don´t have to wait two years and you get a fuller picture of the story and how the characters work within the story.

  126. Just ordered a copy from Amazon. You guys have pushed me over the edge!

  127. But my main claim stands. The film(makers) have taken on the assignment of delivering a cohesive, poignant, well-paced, and terrifying film that justifies the existence and narrative function of each character and scene, earns its emotional beats, advances the plot effectively, and delivers a satisfying and meaningful resolution. Unless it’s a David Lynch or Terrence Malick film, where any viewer knows it’s just the dude riffing for 2 hours, and either you dig that kind of an experimental, expressionist jam, or you don’t. Anyway, if those more conventional film criteria are my scorecard for IT the film, it’s getting something in the B-/C+ range, even if it’s an A- adaptation of IT for the viewer who is steeped in the lore of the book. We’ll see!

  128. I don’t disagree. It’s not a story designed to be crammed into a conventional three-act structure (no original screenplay would get through the first draft with this many main characters–it would have been a simple task to condense Eddie and Stan into one composite and Ben and Mike into another) but that is nonetheless the task the filmmakers took upon themselves when they accepted the assignment. It doesn’t work perfectly (How could it?) but I think it accomplishes the important tasks.

  129. I think we’re as close to convergence as we’ll get here, Majestyk, and pretty close at that. It’s not always clear why a film clicks with one person and not another, and that’s okay, but in this case, I think it is pretty clear. Neither of us loved or hated the film, you liked it a bit more, at least partially because the book is significant to you, and this film adapted and tapped into that energy, tone, and narrative with enough of fidelity that it worked for you. Maybe once I read that book, it’ll invest the film with greater significance and satisfaction for me, too. Thanks for the dialogue!

  130. I know the feeling, watching a movie everyone adors or really enjoy. And then you are sitting there asking a lot of questions about the film that you wouldn´t normally do if you´d have enjoyed it. That pretty much sums up when a movie does not speak to you. Therefore I can´t guarantee you´ll like the movie more after reading the book, but the book is such a fantatsic read in and of itself that you hopefully enjoy it as a tremendous reading experience even if you don´t really care for this adaptation.

  131. Absolutely, Shoot. So often what is happening is that we’re having some weird emotional-aesthetic reaction to a film, and then we’re just trying to make sense of that emotion, with more or less success. A great deal of the time, I don’t know why I’m reacting the way I am to most things, film and otherwise. Doing my best to read the tea leaves.

    In the case of this film, it’s a testament to all the things the film does well, all the embers of potential, that I spent as much time harping on it as I did. It’s not a film I can simply dismiss as crap or unworthy of discussion. It’s got a lot of cool elements going for it.

    Looking forward to the book.

  132. Alright guys you can stop hitting that Ctrl-R cause I saw it earlier today.

    Short version: I’m team-Shoot and really liked it.

    The trailers were pretty spot-on that this is IT by way of a post-CONJURING world. Considering I really like those movies (have not seen either spin-off btw) I was pleased with it. And I gotta admit: I’m one of those weiners that Vern makes fun and kinda like these ghost-type movies where something happens then nothing then something else happens and eventually there’s a climax. So this movies stop-and-go approach didn’t bother me too much. I do feel post their botch attempt to confront It in the house and it fades out and then back in again it looses a bit of steam. That was the only time the episodic nature bugged me. Even then it’s not like it derailed the movie for me but the last part is the least due to that but that’s not a knock against it because there is still some stuff in there: SPOILERLY parts I guess: Painting Lady It gnawing on the one kid and the unnerving effect of Pennywise’s dance and the scene with It-Gerogie. Also liked their gang-up attack on him and It morphing into various things to try and scare/fend them off END SPOILERY I GUESS PART.

    I guess it was it would be easy to say yeah, the movie can’t top it’s opening with Georgie and Pennywise in the sewer but I think the rest was pretty solid. It’s been years since I read the book or watched the mini-series but from memory: I agree with Mr. M on his feelings RE: adapting the story the way they are. But again, I still thought it was a solid-modern-day-post-CONJURING-horror-movie. Makes me want to re-read the book and also look forward to IT’S TIME FOR REVENGE.

    I really liked the book and hope you do as well Skani.

  133. Glad you liked it, GJ. I’m always pro- having-fun-at-the-movies. :) Possibly, I’ll check in here at this thread as I read through the book.

  134. “As for the episodic nature of the story, that’s left over from the source material, where those scenes were framed as flashbacks that the characters from the present were having upon being reminded of their blood oath to return to Derry. I agree that it’s a structure that works better in a book, which is by its very nature chapter-based”

    To expound, it’s also part of why the novel is 40 pages shy of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in length. Each of these Episodes are given a huge amount of room to breathe and become gargantuan set pieces in the book. Adapting such a work requires a compromise between “how many favorite scenes are we going to cut out completely” and “how much are we going to rush through these moments just to cram them in?”

    And it’s hard for me to tell, as someone intimately familiar with the book, what works and what doesn’t. We see that Bev’s dad can’t see the blood; we see the couple drive by Ben getting carved up and not giving a shit; for me, the boxes have sort of been checked and they’ve established that adults in Derry don’t get It. But I have no idea how it would play for someone who was seeing the movie cold. Maybe I would look at the balloon in the backseat of that car that drives past Ben and be like “oh, Pennywise had to specifically go out of his way to bewitch them into ignoring it” and not realize it was a more generalized phenomenon.

    I thought the film nailed the basic essence of the kids and what is important about their struggle, which is the critical factor for a successful IT adaptation.

  135. For the people considering reading the book: I’d really recommend it, easily the best King book I’ve read, not even close. He will never, ever top it imo. As with The Stand, it just earns its length for me, totally.

    Also, i saw mother! last night, thought it was similar to IT in that the trailers promised better music than what we got (fine in IT’s case, nonexistant for the latter).

    mother! made me laugh, it’s a shame people hate it. For me, very camp and 70s, but also a really fun ride with some beautiful visuals.

    I thought it worth mentioning in relation to IT as they are two not especially scary horror films likely to be defined by their ad campaigns. IT in a good way, mother! not so good. I have never seen a film more missold by its trailers, or seen so many walk outs. I think the F cinemascore is people finding an orange in their bag of apples, rather than a real measure of quality. One of mother!’s trailers was brilliant, just for the wrong film. IT’s trailer managed to distill the whole film, and is iconic in its own right.

  136. Nice discussion there, Majestyk and Skani. It’s refreshing to get a perspective from someone who isn’t familiar with the book. And you fuckers were really civil about it and everything.

    I started re-reading IT a couple days ago and realized I haven’t actually read the book since I was a teenager. Now that I’m on the wrong side of thirty and a father myself I have to admit that it is way more fucking creepy for me now than it ever was before. Including when I read it as a kid the first time when I was about the age of the characters.

    Also, this thing fucking FLIES. That first 100 pages for Skani will turn into 1,000 pretty quick I think.

  137. Well, thanks to Jeff Bezos and his minions at Amazon who are efficiency-ing us out of jobs, I should be getting it later tonight. I love this country! in best Yakov Smirnoff voice.

  138. Just makes sure you read it in a comfortable position, because that doorstopper of a book can seriously hurt your back.

  139. Someone mentioned The Shining earlier in the thread and I have to come clean about something: I didn’t get it. I never read the book, I’ve only watched the movie and I don’t understand it. Why is Jack turning into an asshole? What is the deal with the little kid? Why is mom just as clueless as me? Why does Jack decide to kill his family? What is in the hotel? That blood…what? That wasn’t real, right? What’s with the little girls and the guy in the costume. Why are they just staring? And why is Jack in that picture after he’s dead?

    I just didn’t get it.

  140. Jack doesn’t turn into an asshole in the film. He just IS an asshole.

    As for the rest, well, try the book’s Wikipedia page. That would probably explain things better than I could.

  141. “that’s all I can tell you. once you get into cosmological shit like this, you got to throw away the instruction manual”
    -the turtle

  142. binkysguy:

    A big thing in King’s earlier books, pretty much explicitly stated in them, was that evil is a tangible thing that can be absorbed by places (SALEM’S LOT), buildings (THE SHINING) or even cars (CHRISTINE) and which can then infect the people who live in or use them later on. As for Kubrick’s movie, I think he was just focusing on building a particular atmosphere without worrying too much about making narrative sense. He did the same with 2001, another almost incomprehensible movie with actually quite a straightforward plot.

  143. Skani, just to give a dissenting voice, I didn’t particularly care for the book. I liked most of his earlier stuff at the time I read it (early ’80s), but “IT” was just too unfocused for my taste, and it felt to me like he just didn’t know how to finish it. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but it just didn’t live up to its potential for me. I was going to say that it was his ON DEADLY GROUND, but actually I’d say that “The Stand” was his ODG, and “IT” was more like his FIRE DOWN BELOW, or something from the transition period. Or something. Uh, that’s a really half-assed comparison, but whatever. Anyway, I think some of King later stuff is pretty much unreadable.

    I thought the movie IT was fine as a piece of horror fluff, but I also agree about some of it just not making sense, the instant camaraderie, etc.

  144. Numpty I would go a little more positive than you about the book, but I’m surprised that everybody seems to like it as much as they do. Much of it is fucking gripping; the scene where adult Stan gets Mike’s phone call is probably the most suffocatingly intense thing King ever wrote. But as a whole I think it undoes itself with relentless over-analysis. What It represents, how It functions, how it can be battled, and the manner in which It’s It-ness is woven in the the fabric of Derry and its residents, are all explored so fucking thoroughly, and considered in such excruciating minutiae by the Losers, that any sense of mystery or like, evocative metaphor is ground into dust.

    (a grammatically correct use of “It’s”, whaddya know!)

  145. I, for one, commend you on your correct use of apostrophe’s.

  146. I’m about 60 pages in –so far, good. King’s writing style is a bit plodding for my money, but it’s tolerable, and he is keeping me engaged.

  147. As it is Stephen King´s 70th birthday today, you couldn´t have picked a better time to start!

  148. I am currently reading King´s UNDER THE DOME and to my surprise Jack Reacher actually is character within that world. Str

  149. I read UNDER THE DOME a few months ago and that was my favorite part. It made me fantasize about a collaboration where Reacher comes to Castle Rock and has to deal with some supernatural shit while romancing the beautiful local assistant DA or something. Both King and Child plot in the same blindly-plunging-forward-and-hoping-for-the-best-way so I bet they’d have fun swapping chapters back and forth and trying to stump each other.

  150. Well, apparently there is that C.U.J.O movie ( Canine Unit Joint Operations) in the work and if it focuses on a military project in Castle Rock and takes place in the eighties in which Reacher was active in the MP and perhaps conveniantly stationed in Maine at the time? Yeah, I can see Reacher taking on C.U.J.O.

  151. I haven’t read the novella so I can’t be 100% certain, but I have to think 1922 is one of the best King adaptations of all time. I just watched it and I loved it. Thomas Jane is so good in this movie. You guys should watch it.

  152. Watched this again to psych myself up for Part 2 and to give it another try and hopefully prove that my not liking it the first time was some kind of fluke or bad mood or something. I’ll still watch Part 2 on the strength of the cast and an abundance of theatrical horror goodwill, but this movie still can’t do it for me. This is the pits, gang. There some isolated elements of this film that I appreciate, but it’s a bad horror film. I didn’t bother to read it, but my spider-sense tells me that this is 98% rehash of stuff I already said above, but that’s not stopping me from issuing my fresh hot take, b/c I came in with a decent reset, with vastly lowered expectations and a readiness to enjoy this one and let it grow on me.

    The central problem is that Pennywise is not horrifying, not scary, not a character with any substance or gravitas. He’s a creepy clown, that it. He’s literally “You know, clowns have always given me creeps” THE MOVIE. There’s not stalking, no suspense, no primal horror or dread, no weight, no gravitas, no sense of who this character is what he represents, what his motivation is, why he hasn’t already killed everyone, why there’s been no outside intervention in this town, where literally everyone in this town is besides the occasional odd parent or the people in the pharmacy.

    Pennywise is a one-to-three trick pony who always uses the same three tricks in like every scene: widemouth creepy teeth, jump-scare charge, weird affected dum-dum-the-clown “do you wanna lollipop?” voice. It’s just that and mugging. It’s creepy in maybe his first two appearances then becomes immediately unscary and grating. He’s not menacing, he’s not interesting, he’s very well lit, he talks a lot but it’s all just nonsense clown-speak fortune cookie gibberish. Is this really all you got, creepy clown man? Congratulations, my what many teeth you have.

    Is reading the 1000+pp book and knowing the ins and outs of the cosmic turtle, etc. a prereq for watching or having a reason to care about this supposed mainstream wide release prestige slasher/ghostie chiller. WTF? Because if you don’t know the book, this is FREDDY’S DEAD with STAND BY ME kids with slightly higher production values than FREDDY’S DEAD (but that is countervailed by the lack of Roseanne and Tom Arnold).

    Too many characters. Too much jumping around. Micro sub-plots that keep things moving along at a nice clip but mostly do little to build suspense, dread, or even advance the plot. Just one quick digression after another, collecting losers to build up the gang (I didn’t like AVENGERS 1, either, though). The main haunted house is a laughably cheesy, Scooby Doo-esque pre-fab Universal Studios haunted house deal. Except for the time spent underground (which is nothing to write home about either — it mostly takes place in a massive, reasonably well-lit underground expanse), the film has zero atmosphere. 98% of the movie takes place in afternoon daylight, and not in the intentional, self-conscious, “this would be a fresh approach” way but in the, “wow, they really did this whole entire effing jump scare monster schlock-fest in broad summer daylight, wtf?!” There is more creepy underground atmosphere in the GOONIES than there is in this film. Kudos for shooting this mostly on location (it appears), but Derry is just a nothingsville with no sense of geography or character, except at the pond and when we get to the tunnels.

    Here’s what I like. I like when arms come out of Pennywise’s mouth. I think Skaarsgaard and most of the actors do a fine job with what they’re given (Except the sheep farmer kid with the bolt gun, who gives a barely competent, distractingly wooden performance, though good to see Creighton Duke back in a New Line horror film as his grandpa). I like the way the Beverly incest and fighting back thing is portrayed, and the actress gives a great performance. The kids have some nice little quips and moments of dialogue. I like the opening scenes with Georgie and his big bro. The sound design is great. I like the way they portray bullying. It’s good, convincing bullying. There were kids like this in my school growing up. It rings true, and the main bully kid just looks like a bully, head to toe. A great bully character for the ages. I like the children’s television program and the demonic messages juxtaposed with this pleasant kindergarten teachery host lady who is, of course, just another mask for Pennywise. There are some pretty nice little helicopter and crane shots they picked up, though, again, the town has pretty much no sense of geography or character.

    I don’t know. What I feel myself wanting to say is that this movie sucks and is an overrated, cynical, lazy, lifeless, cash grab that looks mostly nice if forgettable and is utterly generic and without any narrative aesthetic vision. It’s not just kind of a letdown but actively makes me grumpy. Even stuff that should be primally creepy, like your dead baby brother leading you to the basement and turning out to be a creepy Pennywise puppet just falls completely flat for me. Nothing. I need IT Viagra, Doc.

    Nothing to see here folks, just a lot of daylight, a creepy but instantly boring clown whom Cambridge scientists taught One Trick for Amazing Jump Scares, and a lot of attempts to evoke wistful feelings of yesteryear that lack any of the beating heart, personality, or quirky originality of a STRANGER THINGS (save for the foul-mouthed kid from STRANGER THINGS). I have more empathy for Majestyk, because this must be how he feels when watches A24 shit.

    Something tells me I would have liked this when I was 13. It’s as good as most of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels, but depressingly less imaginative for the most part. I probably would trash most of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films if they were released for the first time today. At least NIGHTMARE 1 knew how to spend some time in the dark and how to keep some mystery and shadowiness about its big bad. Pennywise in this is like FREDDY c. NIGHTMARE 4. All of this can I’m sure be explained in terms of adapting a film, but I’ll have no truck with that bullshit excuse, because this is a movie, and I shouldn’t have to read (and have the film spoiled by) a 1000+pp book to find this scary or substantive. It’s neither.

    I’m still watching part 2, b/c Bill Hader and co. and my undying hope.

  153. I noticed a while ago that there seems to be a general backlash against this movie. Okay, every popular horror movie goes from “This is the scariest thing ever!” to “It sucks”, but this time I actually understand it. I don’t think it’s as awful as Skani says and even believe it’s a damn entertaining (and at times surprisingly funny) kids adventure that is not for kids, but in the end it’s really just another jumpscare horror and has a villain who comes more across like a tongue in cheek Tim Burton villain, than real nightmare fuel.

    I’m still excited (as in “I will watch it on pay TV”) for part 2.

  154. The sequel will make a ton of money kind of proving the theory that there is backlash to part one maybe.

    Also, to get controversial, It is a horror movie for people who don’t watch horror movies.

  155. I wouldn’t say “for people who don’t watch horror movies”, but its kid adventure focus definitely makes it more accessible to that audience.

  156. Hey Guys, yeah, I definitely think the vigor and vitriol of my reaction is significantly fueled by the dissonance and general disillusionment that this film’s popularity causes. Backlash, that is. If this film had been panned or no one watched it, I’d have watched this expecting it to suck, and I’d have paid more attention to the redeeming aspects, of which there are some. In fact, that’s probably why I’m a little more apt to defend GODZILLA: KOTM, which had not crashed at the box office when I saw it but had at least gotten mixed-to-meh reviews already by that point. I can treat KOTM as a silly, star-studded B movie on steroids and find it perfectly enjoyable (same with SCARY STORIES, which was fun but only adequately diverting), but when IT gets passed off as the great horror film of our times / catalyst for the Stephen King cinematic renaissance / remake cycle…I’m, how you say, not here fort it.

    I’m not sure Sternshein’s “for people who don’t watch horror movies” provocation requires a yes/no response, but you’re definitely onto something, Stern. My kids would surely have nightmares after watching IT, because they don’t watch horror, and if you’ve never seen much horror, then Pennywise would be creepy, and the repeated first-person image of him charging at you would be a little traumatic. If it’s a gateway drug, it will have served some purpose, I guess. If you’ve seen a fair number of horror movies and TALES FROM THE CRYPT episodes and whatnot, it’s pretty clear that the scares in it are mostly uninspired parlor tricks (of which there aren’t many), and Pennywise is like ANOES Part 4-grade Freddy in his general well-lit, unscary hamminess. He’s effectively creepy in his first encounter with Georgie (fumbled near the end zone by the dispiritingly uncanny valley bad CGI of Georgie’s arm-ripping-off and attempt to crawl away) but then just falls into gimmicky and trying too hard. Skaarsgard is really sweating for his money and working to deliver those scares, but no one bothered to tell him (or, to be more fair, the screenwriter and/or director) that less and darker is more. It’s kind of depressing how much this film basically lifts the ANOES playbook, but then lacks the good sense to give it any atmosphere or effective pacing whatsoever.

    So, yes, I was too harsh above in saying that the movie qua movie just sucks or even that it’s cynical. They took the time to put together a good cast, they were able to elicit some good technical performances, Pennywise looks cool but is shown too much and too brightly, and I can sense them really trying to invest this with some of that simpler-time wistfulness and substance. It’s an above average Freddy sequel.

    The lack of atmosphere and all-over-the-place nature of the scene-to-scene progression, combined with the lack of any particular shape or substance given to the mythology or world-building, make this one a dud for me, though. Pennywise never develops into a coherently menacing entity, just a bored spirit hanging out in the tunnels waiting for some kids to scare (or sometimes coming into their homes to scare them) and working increasingly hard to pull off increasingly limp-to-nil scares. Don’t try so hard Pennywise, it comes off as thirsty. Derry as a social, political, or physical environment is not so much ominous and mysterious as it is thin and under-developed as a character. It is blandly vague, under-populated, and generic.

    These mostly fine actors and performances are worthy of something better than playing tropes in an afternoon trip through Stephen King’s Universal Halloween Horror Nights.

  157. Can’t believe I never commented on this movie before – probably because I felt the same way as Skani – IT Part 1 is kinda garbage, a tedious, frustrating exercise in repetition and boredom. It’s literally Nightmare on Elm Street if Freddy forgot to kill any of the characters, which especially sucks since there’s like 7 of them so you just have to watch the same scene of Pennywise “scaring” them over and over and over again. And yes, I understand he’s toying with them or “they taste better when they’re scared” or whatever, but it doesn’t make it any less uninteresting to watch.

    Hot take: The Curse of La Llorna isn’t a good movie and suffers from the same problem (why does the ghost insist on toying around with the kids instead of killing them?) but I actually think in a vacuum its scare sequences are more inventive and better crafted. I didn’t like it but admitted “I’d probably like that alot if I’ve never seen a horror movie before”. IT is kind of the same way, but even if I’ve never seen a horror movie before I think I’d still be kinda bored by it.

  158. “And yes, I understand he’s toying with them or “they taste better when they’re scared” or whatever, but it doesn’t make it any less uninteresting to watch.”

    Exactly, Neal. With a film like ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, I grant Tarantino the pass that you’re expected to have at least a one-sentence-length cultural literacy into the Manson/Tate murders, but that and a general interest in the subject matter/trailer is all the homework you need to do to enjoy the film.

    With this film, it seems to me like there’s a lot of rationalizing its soulless genericism by appeals to the difficulty of adaptation and/or the notion that you could appreciate it more if you’d just done your homework and read the 1000-page book before watching it. Oh, is that all?! :p It’s real simple: If you can’t adapt it into an effective stand-alone genre film, then don’t adapt it until there’s a solid angle and team to make it work as a stand-alone cinematic entity. Nothing inherently artistic or creative — only one or a combination of greed, hubris, bad taste, hackiness, stupidity, or laziness — compels a studio to adapt this book into the utterly generic, unscary, mostly un-unsettlingly pablum that is this film. This film is as scary and unsettling as Marilyn Manson phoning in his hits at the 2019 state fair, prowling the stage from the comforts of a jazzy scooter. I owe you zero goodwill or assumed backstory from the book.

  159. I do think It is a pretty legitimate comedy though.

    Also, turns out Godzilla wasn’t a box office failure.

  160. I’m not sure I have the energy to argue about whether GODZILLA 2 was a box failure. It made back its budget and then some but significantly underperformed vs. expectations in terms of the previous two “MonsterVerse” movies or other would-be tentpole blockbusters. I grateful they made it, but I think it’s done as a love letter to Godzilla geeks, and the average moviegoer is not particularly deep in the weeds with the finer nuances of King Ghidorah or Mothra lore. As weird, sprawling, campy, and self-indulgent with the Godzilla inside baseball as it is, I think that’s a pretty respectable turnout, I just think the expectations were unrealistic.

    I don’t know if you meant IT was an unintentional comedy, or if you’re referring to STRANGER THINGS kid’s non-stop early pubescent male sexuality jokes, which were admittedly pretty funny at points.

  161. I meant that the movie is funny.

  162. I saw this for the first time the other day at a screening to build hype for CHAPTER 2. I was a little iffy on the trailers if I remember correctly, but I was still surprised by how flat it fell for me. It starts well but doesn’t build. Three of the seven “losers” have no personality here, and that’s if I generously count Richie’s lame jokes as personality. One of them…has curly hair and a Rabbi father? That seemed to be it. Even the lamest of the ELM STREET sequels had some kind of inspiration to the kills, Pennywise here just seems to pop out randomly to do something xtreme!!! now and then.

    Mind you I don’t rate the book as one of King’s best. “Too long” and “lame ending” are the cliche complaints people have about King books that don’t usually apply for me, but they do for IT. Still, if I hadn’t read the book a couple of years ago (and seen the miniseries about a decade ago) there would have been even less of interest for me here.

  163. Holy shit, you guys, I liked IT 2. I might have even loved it. Mostly because it embraces full-on weirdness. It’s a not a great film, but it’s fun, heartfelt, and best, of all, very strange.

  164. Looks like Skani and I park our cars in the same spaces in the ITverse, because I liked Chapter 2 a lot more than the first. Seemingly for different reasons though; I liked that it focused on the aspect of the book I found most interesting (repressed memories), on the whole I still find the film Pennywise very, very lame, although there is one effective bit of nastiness (the bleachers scene).

  165. Don’t listen to these maniacs, who are trying to lure you to your doom with false promises, like some kind of evil clown who turns into bad CGI with a big mouth running straight at the camera 47 times in the same movie without consequence. It’s every bit as terrible as you heard it was.

  166. I’ve kind of been waiting for the review to discuss it more deeply, but I generally found it just “ok”. I liked some parts of it a lot (specifically James Ransone and Bill Hader), but other parts just didn’t really play for me. It was weirdly more like a horror-comedy, like a CABIN IN THE WOODS kind of thing than straight horror, which I guess sort of makes sense given that the first one was like a more-violent Amblin-era kids adventure movie. My favorite sequence was Bev returning to her old apartment because it was actually creepy for a little bit there. My favorite parts of the book are all the history segments about all the terrible shit that happened throughout the years in the town due to Pennywise, so none of that wound up in either movie anyway (understandable, if disappointing).

    I really would say it’s worth seeing just for James Ransone’s performance, though. Bill Hader got all the notice, and he is definitely good, but Ransone ran away with it imo.

  167. Kurgan: I’ve also been waiting for the review to drop my elaborate breakdown of exactly why almost nothing worked except the few things you mentioned. The only thing I disagree with you on is Ransone’s performance, which I found shrill and disruptive. But at least he’s playing a character and not a non-entity like everyone else besides Hader, who may have found his true calling as the comic relief in horror movies. Everybody else ranged from utterly bland (Bev) to actively awful (Mike). This is first time I’ve even considered the idea that it was possible for James McAvoy to give a bad performance, but that’s the peculiar alchemy of this film: It magically transforms things I like into things I don’t.

    I wish AsimoveLives was still around so I wouldn’t have to be the one to call it SHIT: CHAPTER POO.

  168. Mr. M- It’s funny, I actually would totally have agreed with you about Ransone for the first half of this very long movie, but something clicked for me right about the point where he’s (vague for mild spoilers) attacked in the bathroom and his performance just came into focus for me and I really started enjoying it a lot.

    McAvoy really was a disappointment too- I like him a lot in other things, but in this one, the whole thing of Bill as a character is that, despite his stutter, he just has a kind of special something, a charisma that draws everyone to him. He’s got “it”, if you will, as an old acting teacher of mine used to say, that special something that some people are just born with. Whatever McAvoy was doing here, he wasn’t doing that. He’s just running around crying.

  169. I guess Bill just didn’t have anywhere to go because Mike stole his stutter, so McAvoy, possibly in an attempt to amuse himself in a part that utterly wastes his talents, seems to be attempting some kind of New England accent, which seems to make the Australian underwear model cosplaying Christian Grey jealous because his accent gets all wonky every time they share the screen.

    This is a pretty bad movie you guys.

  170. I had to check IMDb if there is a 2nd James McAvoy, who isn’t a bland charisma vacuum. There isn’t. Then I checked if there are any movies where he actually was good. Well, he obviously had fun for once in ATOMIC BLONDE and there are a few movies with him that I haven’t seen, so maybe he isn’t all bad, but…I think you can guess where this is going.

    I don’t think he is very good. I even forgot that he was the star of WANTED and that was a movie that I hate so much, I remember it very well. Chris Pratt gets a keyboard to the face.

  171. I was never the biggest McAvoy fan, but he has an Oscar-worthy show off performance in SPLIT, reprised in GLASS.

  172. I still haven’t seen them yet, mostly because of McAvoy.

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