Safe and Scary: Our Review of ‘It’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - September 08, 2017
Safe and Scary: Our Review of ‘It’

The wealth of opportunity to scare using the source material is paramount: so is the wealth that comes with successfully translating a famed horror novel to the big screen.

It, the terrifying Stephen King novel about a devilish clown that literally and figuratively feeds on fear, attempts to do what most major studio films do now in the 21st century: appease a lot of fans; be genuinely compelling; set up a lot of sequels.

Some of them work. Of course there will be a sequel, at least there should be, for the story here told is only half of what happens in the book (not that all films need to follow the source material). Seven kids, brought together by friendship or circumstance, encounter strange, terrifying things in their small Maine town in the summer of 1988. Each of them is individual enough, though sometimes the filmmakers struggle with balance out the needs and interest of these many characters.

Among the prominent ones is Will, a young, heroic figure with a stutter who loses his younger brother to the mysterious titular clown with the film begins. Another Is Beverly, the only female of the group and thus the object of much attention. Like the other boys, she has family issues – hers in the form of an abusive father.

They each find a single encounter with Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and they are for the most part rightfully unnerving. But as the film progresses and moves towards its thrilling ending, packed with lots of blood along the way, you can’t help but shake the feeling that the entirety of the movie is just a little bit to careful, too polished, too made-by-committee.

It misfires every so often in tone and subject, and at no point during its two-hour run time to do forget you’re in a theatre watching a movie. It is surprisingly flat (even during a scene when Pennywise leaps from a screen), and doesn’t quite understand that less is more, especially when it comes to featuring a naturally, innately terrifying figure.

While still acting as a very serviceable horror film, with promise to come in sequels, It could be so much better, so much more unnerving with more focus and direction and a desire not to be palatable, but to truly terrify.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.