I will start by saying this is not an open endorsement to go and watch Stephen King’s “IT” in theaters. Instead, I want to explain why I had the desire to watch it.I watched the 1990 miniseries (more like two made-for-tv movies to be honest) back when I was probably close to ten years old. At the time, it was creepy and definitely had moments that scared me. However, this was back in the time when tv would edit out a lot of mature things, which is no longer the case. Nevertheless, the miniseries still had its moments.
The book of “IT” is extremely violent and has some very mature themes that could not be put on tv. Looking back now, the miniseries has various levels of campiness and the acting is subpar save for Tim Curry’s performance as the iconic clown, Pennywise. His performance has remained a staple of his career and also in the horror genre.
Twenty seven years later, we are introduced to the film adaption of the novel and it is more true to the book despite many liberties being taken. The horror and gruesome imagery in the book translate to an R-rated film much easier and the director, Andy Muschietti, did not hold back. Believe it or not there are scenes in the book that even by today’s standards could not be filmed and put on the screen. I won’t go into the details but King introduced some troubling things and to this day people are not keen to (as well they shouldn’t).
Now, why did I want to watch this film? I am in no real way a horror fan. I have tons of memories of scouring the tv as a kid and finding horror movies (all edited for general viewing, of course) and daring to watch them even though I was not allowed to. Why? Mostly because I was curious. I never had nightmares from doing this but those images do stick with you. Part of me definitely did it to get the rush of adrenaline one gets but I’m not a junkie for that sort of thing. I’m more a fan of suspense than horror.
For “IT”, my draw was partly due to nostalgia because I remembered the mini series and I also remember reading in-depth synopses of the novel (I never dared to read it) so I was curious as to how this film was going to turn out. I paid close attention to the trailers and tv spots whenever they were released and watched them on YouTube and I even watched the breakdowns of these clips. Again, all out of curiosity more than anything else. After listening to reviews from multiple critics, I gauged their response to the film as well and the high regards for it tugged at my interest more. If they had all said it was crap and not worth their time or money, then I’d probably be like, “Eh, maybe I won’t see it then.” Alas, that was not the case.
When it came time to watch the film, I was apprehensive but knew plenty about the source material and even heard some spoilers that I felt prepared. Hahaha, I know, I know. Why watch it then?
I have to say the film is well made and the acting performances by the young actors are spot on great. Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise the Clown was different than Tim Curry’s previous portrayal and every bit intense and scary. A very good job. The creepiness factor is there throughout and at times so subtle that I only knew what to look for because of some of the reviews I listened to. Some seemed specifically aimed at the theater goers. Was it scary? Yes and no. Was it violent? Yes and yes. Was it worth my time? I think so.
Let me explain why. As I’ve done this whole writing thing, I’ve been drawn into storytelling no matter the medium. Whether its movies, television, comics, video games, etc. If there’s a great story with even better characters, I am interested. It doesn’t matter the genre either. I kind of equate my experience watching “IT” to my experience of playing “The Last of Us” which I reviewed in a prior blog post. “The Last of Us” was an intense experience! There are so many moments where the intensity of the environment and situation have my adrenaline up and flowing. If you’ll recall, I loved the experience of the gameplay but even more so the characters of Joel and Ellie.
For “IT”, the kids make the movie. Yes, Pennywise and all of his eerie creepiness are more spectacle than anything else because he’s a shape shifting other worldly entity of evil that feeds on the fear of children. What they fear, he becomes, which as you can imagine produced some frightening things.
I think what draws myself and audiences to “IT” is essentially the kids and their banding together to beat this evil that adults cannot see or even sense. And this threat is very real since we see at the beginning that it preys on children, feeding on them once their fear meets its needs. There is a very real sense of danger to them and we cannot help but root for their survival and defeat of evil.
Call to Action: Don’t watch “IT” unless it’s your brand of entertainment. I can honestly say that while I enjoyed the film for some reasons, I don’t feel the need to see it again. One and done until the sequel comes out (yeah, I forgot to mention it’s a two-parter film as well).