Fans of the horror genre have seen a significant decline in product over the last decade. Inexplicably, directors and writers have moved away from making actually good movies, instead forsaking all elements of decent cinema in order to scare or shock the audience with choppy editing, jump scares, and vast amounts of gore.
I explained pre-release on this very website that IT would be different. I wrote about my high hopes, I sold my friends in frequent conversations on the idea that this movie would change the landscape, nay perhaps change the entire culture. IT would swing the pendulum back towards movies that were scary: like Jaws was scary, like The Shining was scary, like Alien was scary. We would go to the theater and see history in the making, and would be able to tell our grandkids in twenty years we saw IT in the theater on opening night. Their faces would shine with admiration and wonder!
Holy crow, was I vastly mistaken! At one point, perhaps an hour in, I seriously considered walking out, going home, and folding laundry. To hell with my fifteen bucks.
I just want a horror movie to come through for me. I want a horror movie that’s not afraid to ignore clichés and jump scare tactics to appeal to the masses. Take some risks for the sake of art and cinema. Director Andy Muschietti simply recycles 80’s refuse, flexes zero creative muscles, and instead seems content to ride a broken wagon of low brow jump scare (spoiler alert: not scary) tactics and creature effects, ignoring plot or character development of any sort. The old adage “show, don’t tell” has fled the horror scene in Hollywood. The films are now dumbed down; filled with stock, stagnant characters and plotless writing. Just like IT.
Pennywise was as well done as he could’ve been, and I do applaud Bill Skarsgard’s attempt to salvage the character. He did the best he could. It must be hard to be in a movie when all you do is say four words, and then have your face rearranged by computer effects. It was so formulaic it became boring. He shows up, he nails a few creepy lines, he disappears, he reappears and he turns his face into a big pile of teeth. Over and over. And over. And over again. Yawn.
I’ll say the same for Finn Wolfhard (Netflix’s Stranger Things), he swears like an old soul, and was funny. I believe the editor Jason Ballantine (Mad Max:Fury Road, The Great Gatsby) quickly realized the rest of the dialogue and acting was so poor he had to run 80% of the spoken lines through Wolfhard. Don’t tell me it’s because Tozier is famous for his inability to shut up, because I heard “beep beep, Richie” only twice during the entire movie, and once it was from Pennywise. This decision to flood the movie with his lines was simply due to the fact Wolfhard was the ONLY child actor accomplished enough to nail the script that was written for adult actors and handed to children. I winced frequently, to say the least. Watching a twelve-year-old attempting to speak like a forty-year-old sheriff just ground the dialogue effectiveness right to dust.
Moving along to tasteless cinema with the goal of shocking a mostly sixteen-year-old audience, let’s examine a few elements of IT I found wildly inappropriate. Firstly, I am not interested in watching young children be mutilated. A young child has his arm bitten clean off at the elbow, and then flounders around in the rain soaked street gushing blood and screaming. Secondly, I am not interested in the overt sexualization of a thirteen-year-old girl. I was damned uncomfortable when she strips out a dress and prances around in her underwear. This was not done through the filter of teenage boy/coming of age way (The Sandlot pool scene, e.g.), but had a rather adult sexual tone. Gross.
The highest praise I can offer this movie revolves around a fantastic advertising campaign. The trailers were masterfully edited, leading me to believe this movie would be something special. The teasers of Pennywise, Wolfhard rambling hilariously about Eddie’s mom and ‘grey water’ held my hand and led me through the tulips, all the way to the ticket stand on opening night. I want my money back, and hopefully I can save you some if it’s not too late.
Stay away from this travesty, unless you like the taste of the poisoned Kool-Aid. Then, by all means, enjoy yourself.
1 of 5 Clowns
Despite poor reviews like this one, IT utterly destroyed the box office, bringing in $123 million in its opening weekend to obliterate the previous R-rated horror film record of $52.5 million, set by Paranormal Activity 3. Director Andrés Muschietti confirms Bill Skarsgard is locked for a second picture as the evil clown entity Pennywise and offers insight into the “darker” future in which Chapter Two is set.