By Carmen Saffioti
Published: September 14th, 2017
“It” is better than most remakes, but it’s still a remake.
What is the only thing that can kill a killer clown? Misfit adolescents who go on bike adventures. “IT,” which premiered last Friday, is a tribute to this flawless formula: it’s emotional, nostalgic, and painfully predictable. “IT” terrifies its viewers with its incredible visuals (resembling something out of a childhood nightmare) and then comforts them with a formulaic plot. America has 80s fever, as evident in the return of “Star Wars,” the creation of “Stranger Things,” and the remake of “Ghostbusters.” All these installments prove that audience members would rather watch more predictable and comfortable stories than something a bit more original.
The creators of “IT” had an incredible challenge: to transform Stephen King’s 1,138 page-long novel into a two-hour film. The 1990 creation of “IT,” however, was a mini-series rather than a movie. In order to accommodate, the 2017 creators decided to cut the plot of “IT” in half and hope for enough success to begin the second chapter of the franchise. However, this decision took a toll on the film. Stephen King’s novel is an ode to fear and how it transforms us. The novel follows well-developed and lovable characters as they face their childhood fears, and then as they remedy their adulthood anxieties. The 1990’s mini-series intertwines the plots of the adults and the children. This makes the characters seem genuine, unlike the remake, in which the characters are cheap 80’s archetypes. Theoretically, if “IT” never gets its sequel, the film (plot wise) is complete. The heroes won and the clown is “dead,” but the deeper themes that are prevalent in both the novel and the miniseries are never touched upon. This is really unfortunate.
You can expect to laugh more during “IT” than scream. The film is emotionally conflicting and wide-ranging. It’s much less of a horror film than it is an adventure. Yes, Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise is unsettlingly creepy, but the more you see him the funnier it gets. Pennywise makes many appearances on screen, which is a huge mistake for horror movies. There is no time for suspense to build, and leaves the film to use predictable and unearned jump scares to get a few screams out of the audience. By the time you see Pennywise jump out the fourth or fifth time, you’ll probably chuckle at his ridiculous headshaking. However, what is nightmarish about “IT” is its ability to recall the hysteria of children when they encounter their fears.
Due to the lack of time for emotional development in the film, “IT” had to resort to a very intense score to lift a lot of the emotional weight of certain scenes. The very first scenes of the movie are Georgie’s death. There is no time for the characters to establish themselves, and without very loud symphony, it’s hard to connect to Bill’s grief. The score often tells the audience how to feel because the movie is emotionally wide-ranging. The soundtrack of the film is mostly used to emphasize the setting, since 80’s nostalgia is what this film thrives on.
The acting is the saving grace of the film. I had low expectations for the acting in the film as child actors are usually horrendous, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Finn Wolfhard, who plays Richie Tozier, fantastically portrays a humorous yet gross adolescent. His character’s one-liners and sexual innuendos serve as great comedic breaks. Sophia Lillis plays Beverly Marsh, the intruder girl in the all-boys club archetype, but she plays the part with an unexpected maturity and depth. Lillis had to give the impression of emerging sexuality with several of her co-stars. However, what was more challenging is that she had to demonstrate a possibly sexually abusive relationship with her character’s father. Lillis is only 15-years-old but demonstrated an emotional range that many adult actors cannot achieve. If the casting directors of IT were less talented, it would be fair to say that the film would have crumbled.
The special effects were cutting edge. It is probably the only thing that distinguishes itself from an actual 80’s horror film. The gore throughout the film is not enough to make your stomach turn, but it is overused. “IT” ends up desensitizing its own audience because the gore comes on too early and too much.
“IT” is nothing that will stand out. It is a remake, and because it is a remake people will pay to see it. Then again, Hollywood makes more remakes until there is really nothing original left. “IT” is not unentertaining and perhaps it is worth $13 to see, but I would have rather seen something original than a collage of nostalgia.