It (2017)

"You'll float too!"

It was incredibly difficult to decide which picture to have accompany this review. I didn't want it to be anything too scary, but it still felt like it had to be Pennywise. This was the compromise I came up with. As it is, I feel like the balloon is going to start drifting away and It's going to get me while I write this review.

Stephen King is notoriously hard to adapt. Just look at the most recent attempt that came out only last month. His books are long, the dialogue doesn't always sound natural when spoken out loud, and they can explore some pretty dark and messed up places. All of these things make me a little leery of a possible adaptation.

It very smartly either sidesteps or embraces all of these challenges. If you're familiar with the novel, you know that there's essentially two parts to the story: when the members of the Losers Club are kids and when they're adults. We only get the first half of the story in this movie. While leaving the door open for the inevitable sequel, it also allows the story to be more tightly focused. Instead of bouncing back and forth, we're grounded in one story that's happening now.

It's a pretty good story too, if at times a little disjointed. It, the monster, is a very present and terrifying threat. He looms in every scene, even if he's not physically there. This is a horror movie that is actually very scary. I love horror movies. I watch them to relax and consider myself to be largely desensitized to them, and I screamed in the theatre. I honestly cannot remember the last time that that happened.

The movie is its most effective in the beginning. The time that it spends on Georgie and the light hearted, almost whimsical music that plays while he chases his boat is definitely the highlight of the movie. It never quite reaches the same heights after this, although it does occasionally come close. All of the kids genuinely feel like they're in peril. Normally, kids are safe in horror movies. That's definitely not the case here.

But the horror is routinely interrupted by "slice of life" scenes. Stephen King's novel is equal parts horror and coming of age, but the latter doesn't really work here. It disrupts whatever tension has been building, and forces the movie to start over again from scratch. While the budding love triangle between Ben, Bill, and Beverly does have some sweet and cute moments, these scenes make the whole movie feel a bit disjointed.

That's really my main complaint about the film. The dialogue is snappy and sounds realistic. All of the actors, young and old, are phenomenal. Some of the Losers feel like the movie occasionally forgot that they existed, but everyone did a very good job. Bill Skarsgård in particular is absolutely fantastic as Pennywise. I realize that Tim Curry's performance is iconic, but I much preferred Skarsgård's. He was menacing and demonic, and definitely elevated this movie. I really don't have enough praise for him.

I will say that It definitely earns the "R" rating. If you saw the 1990 version, know that everything has been ramped up the eleven. There's more blood, more gore, more kind of dodgy CGI, more jump scares, and a lot more cursing. The abusive relationship between Beverly and her father also takes on some very dark and uncomfortable undertones. It's not a movie for the squeamish.

Random Thoughts


They moved the time period up 30 years from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Okay, I swear that that balloon is moving. And It is smiling wider. And if It reached through my computer to grab me, I'm going to be very upset. I don't want to float too.

Pennywise's eyes are slightly off center. It's a small, but unnerving detail. There's actually a lot of small, unnerving details if you watch closely.

Before you ask, no, the infamous scene from the book is not in the movie. I think that that would push this past the "R" rating.

"Remember guys, don't split up." And what happens not even five minutes later? Two separate people  wander away from the group.


I really enjoyed It. It's definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations, and I hope that fans of the book are happy with it. Even if you haven't read the book but enjoy horror movies, I would still recommend the movie. I would even recommend it if you don't particularly like horror but enjoy a coming of age story complete with nicely developed friendships and awkward, blossoming first love. Basically, there's a lot to like here.

An Honest Fangirl loves superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, and really bad horror movies. And sometimes she writes about them.

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much for your review, Fangirl. It sounds like they're doing justice to the source material for a change.

Patrick said...

I thought the 1990 mini-series was a pretty good adaptation given the running time and the limitations of broadcast television. But I enjoyed this movie even more, and can't wait for the second chapter. I thought all of the actors playing the kids in the Losers Club did a very good job, though I think the actors playing Eddie, Richie & Beverly were standouts. And while I'll always love Tim Curry's take on the character, this movie's Pennywise was downright terrifying. Unlike you Fangirl, I enjoyed the coming-of-age moments if for no other reason than horror movies these days so rarely have such fleshed-out characters.

Obviously the events in the movie don't play out exactly like the events in the book, there's just no way to fit everything from a book that large, even with the timeline split. But where the movie wasn't "accurate", I'd assert that it still remained "faithful". The only element of the book I really missed was the narrative structure. When I re-read the book earlier this year I was reminded of how brilliantly King wove the two timelines together, shifting back and forth between each one. I completely understand why they split it the way they did for the films, but I still miss it.

JRS said...

Thanks, Fangirl! Great review, and made me decide I do want to see the new film. Looking forward.

An Honest Fangirl said...

So ,It just made $117.1 million on it's opening weekend. That's the third biggest opening this year, behind Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. And of course, it smashes all of the records with regards to R - rated horror movies and September openings. That's insane to me. I knew that the movie was excellent, but I definitely didn't expect it to do this well.

Josie Kafka said...

Fangirl, thank you so much for this review!

I plan on seeing this movie at some point, but I don't think I can see it in a dark theater:

This is a horror movie that is actually very scary. I love horror movies. I watch them to relax and consider myself to be largely desensitized to them, and I screamed in the theatre.

I would totally do that. Luckily, my cats will be able to stand guard if I watch it at home in a well-lit room during the day when it's available as a rental.

TheShadowKnows said...

"Before you ask, no, the infamous scene from the book is not in the movie. I think that that would push this past the "R" rating."

I don't think you could have that type of scene in a mainstream Hollywood movie at all, no matter how little you actually showed. The scene was disgusting in the book - I can't imagine what Stephen King was thinking when he wrote it - so you won't get any complaints from me that it doesn't appear.

In general, though, I'm wary of this adaptation. The fact that this movie consists of only the past timeline, with the present timeline to presumably follow in a future movie, shows that the filmmaker really didn't understand why the book was structured the way it was. Mr. King went to a great deal of trouble to keep the adults from initially remembering what happened in the past, so as to have the revelations from the past and present occur at the same time (and indeed the 1990 miniseries was structured the same way). The fact that the filmmaker didn't grasp the reason for this raises the question in my mind about what else he didn't get.

Still... a positive review on Doux Reviews is always worth something. So maybe!

An Honest Fangirl said...

I'm also a little wary about how the "Present" timeline will play out in the inevitable sequel. There's a lot of character development that happens here that I remembered being in the "Present," at least according to the 1990 miniseries. So, I don't know how they'll handle it or how good it'll actually be.

I will say, however, that this movie is very, very good. I saw it a second time in theaters and loved it just as much. Like Patrick said, it's more faithful than accurate. There are definitely some changes, some that I liked and some that I didn't. Overall though, I'd say that it's definitely worth seeing. And if you're wary, just wait for it to come out on demand! :)