Posts Tagged: Stephen King’s IT

Jan 18

An Off-the-Cuff review of ‘IT’

      We finally saw the movie IT. We found it entertaining, with a lot of good set pieces, well worth a horror-film fan’s time, but there were disappointments. I’d been given the impression by glowing blurbs that it was an epochal horror film, something supposedly as significant as The Exorcist or Psycho or The Creature from the Black Lagoon or The Incredible Shrinking Man or The Blair Witch Project (I found Blair Witch to be scary and it created a whole subgenre of horror film) or Ringu or The Host… But it wasn’t as significant as any of those films. The Exorcist had a real auteur at the helm, a director with an innate sense of image flow and narrative traction. IT, by contrast, has a director who’s either weak willed enough to be excessively interfered with by producers and studios, or who doesn’t understand storytelling and cinematic flow very well. He’s not awful, he’s just either prone to choppiness, and lapses into narrative vagueness–or someone made him cut a lot of connective tissue. I also think the that music used to signal “something scary is coming” is a weakness in filmmaking, and it’s a weakness here…
      Most scenes, as individual set pieces, seem well written,  very well acted (Bill Skarsgard is quite effective indeed as Pennywise the Evil Clown), and the majority of scenes have their scares. There are moments when Pennywise makes his move to take down a victim, coming at us face on, that are strikingly, chillingly constructed, a sort of rapid-pace montage of rapacity. The climactic scene is nicely constructed…The girl who plays Beverly is wonderfully charismatic, and is the boldest and most empathetic of the group, a good role model for young women. The cinematography, creature effects, shot composition, art design, is all high quality, sometimes exquisite. And the script does seem very Stephen King inspired. However…
      I know, there are a lot of characters to juggle, you can only fit so much in, but if that’s the challenge, rise to it. Work harder. Say more with less if you have to, but include what you need to make it flow…As it is the film feels herky-jerky, and there failures of internal logic, as after hugely horrific incidents the group of kids are often flirting or kidding around when they should be much more devastated. And there are a lot of threads that are not followed up. I’m sure it was all more cohesive in the novel. And I see that this is designated Chapter One, so a sequel is planned, which may knit the first film into an overall weave–much more from the King novel. (Which I haven’t read, but I’m aware it’s a huge book.) If I were giving the film as a whole a rating using stars–I’d say overall, IT is a two and a half or three star movie. But if I were giving stars just for acting, visuals, production values, pacing (it’s 135 minutes but didn’t seem too long), soundtrack, I’d give it four stars.
      You can call the following a spoiler if you like, but I don’t think so, it won’t mean anything to anyone but those who’ve seen the film: That bit near the end “the kids are floating down”–and then nothing more. That whole aspect is never resolved. What happened to the souls or ghosts of the murdered children? We never learn. Also the kids in the group  don’t explain anything to the town. No one in authority is sent down into the well. Does the book resolve this stuff?
      Still, it’s worthwhile, and you can see it now as a streaming rental for five bucks.