Yours truly took herself to the movies this week. I saw It, the horror film based on Stephen King’s gigantic, sprawling ode to childhood and some other stuff.
I promise not to give away the ending. Those seven kids walk through this closet and have to fight Aslan for ultimate control of Narnia. Whoops.
Okay, if you’re a Steve King fan, you’ve read this novel and have probably seen the television miniseries with Tim freaking Curry as Pennywise.
Good for you! I, too, have both read and seen those. I’ve read It more than once. Because I compulsively read books over and over. Now you know something about me.
So!! This new adaptation. Or remake. Or gritty reboot. Mm. Ahem.
From the opening scenes of Georgie, little brother to Bill, the MAIN CHARACTER, and the paper boat racing along the flood of destiny, we’re SUCKED IN to this world seen from mostly the children’s POV. The cussing, the kid subjects they find fascinating, the fearlessness, the camaraderie in the face of absolute evil…! The grownups seem misty and surreal, which works here. We kind of get why a kid in a rainstorm would talk to a flipping CLOWN in a drain.
I don’t get it, however, because I find clowns fucking scary. They freak me out. I’d never…okay. Which is a problem I had with It, the novel and It, the subsequent visual realizations of said novel.
It’s too on the nose scary in the 2017 film version. It’s obvious. Too obvious, for my esoteric tastes. It starts off as OMG SCARY SAVE ME BABY JESUS and there’s nowhere to go from there. It’s rather static. You can’t keep pissing your pants if you piss them right at the start of the movie, to be blunt and gross. Other reviewers and wiseacres have also mentioned the problems with the clown. It’s not just me.
And…every time Pennywise sticks around longer than ten seconds, we see the zipper up the back of the costume, to quote from King’s Danse Macabre. Which is a shout-out to those old, creaky monster movies from the Atomic Age. Godzilla to Them! to the Mole People. If you have no idea what any of those three things mentioned are…JUST GO AWAY. Ser’sly. Buh bye. Go watch Memento again, you squirrelly assmunch. Yeah, I’m a wee bit hostile.
I’m aware that It, the clown critter, is mostly CGI. It’s neato. Pennywise is far more frightening when it’s just that Skarsgard dude in clown makeup…that is one talented family.
But what I’m ACTUALLY wondering is how that damn clown fools any of those kids into following it anywhere or why a kid would let that thing close enough to grab him or her or them…after all, predators of children are not the scary monsters that Pennywise is. Side note– most kids get molested or harmed or killed by someone they know. We can’t teach Grandpa Danger, after all…
Kids are totally into monsters and avoiding them, after all. It’s called being a kid. Imagination plus knowing, without a doubt, that that shadow in the closet waits until you’re asleep before it stands over you, breathing. Breathing. As the novel does get into– kids have absolute faith. That moment in the novel King penned where young Stan screams the names of birds to banish the monster into the shadows again and it works. That’s the power of faith manifested through a child’s absolute belief that the right words will make the bad stuff go away. Abracadabra.
Where is the seduction from Pennywise? We don’t see it. It doesn’t exist. I was thinking, how stupid are those Maine schoolkids to fall for that obvious craptoad Pennywise? I haven’t read the book for a while, so forgive me for this. But I REMEMBER the clown/It being far more subtle. It didn’t start out at TEN, it began working on victims further down the scale, more at a two or three level. That clown [the creature that inhabits Derry, Maine] had fun with its victims, it didn’t go for the jugular right away like a rabid weasel. At least, that’s what I remember.
Now, granted, the year/s this all took place got upgraded to the late nineties. We went from the fifties in the original book to the time of Bill Clinton and the Backstreet Boys.
There’s a cute little flirty thing in the movie involving Beverly, resident perceived slutchild, and Ben, resident fatboy, about the Backstreet Boys. Or maybe it was New Kids on the Block or…ugh. It was genuinely something kids would do. It’s little moments like that that actually make this film a far better country that it has a right to be. Those little interactions that seem to rise naturally and organically from the story and surroundings…I know, shh. I’m being a pretentious snickerdoodle. Okay.
Oh, the Losers Club is made up of the stereotypical losers from any random school/small town. The nerds, the geeks, the fat kid, the kid that doesn’t fit in, the differently colored kid, the girl everyone thinks enjoys gang bangs, the four-eyed unfortunate sons of genetics gone wrong, the sickly, the weak, the losers. And, of course, they’re all great kids who contribute in some way to HOW TO FIGHT THE MONSTER. The leader, the builder, the navigator, the…these kids could build dams, do research, make connections Sherlock Holmes would have made…!
At least, in the book they were presented as such. I kinda wish more of their talents and gifts had been included in the movie, so as to show why these normal kids could face down an ancient monster clown thingie. There’s bits and pieces but still. It’s rather like the complaint about the magic weapons in LOTR. How come, like, three people can fight off the gazillions of orcs and goblins? It was all laid out in the books but not so much in the movies…okay.
Oh. So. The other MAIN OBJECTION I formed to this film was…the last part of it. Where an ugly little Scary Movie Staple raised its Ugly Little Head.
That would be Woman in Peril.
[the following contains slight spoilers!!]
I’m sitting there, enjoying this movie, wondering why those various other kids follow that damn clown to their doom and did I miss the part where maybe It is using hypnosis or some other machination when…the only girl, Beverly Marsh, in the Band of Losers…gets treated to the ace of Girlcrap in the Scary Movie Deck of Bullshit Cards. Fuck me running!
Beverly, newly on her period, the focus of several cute-ish crushes from her new collection of friends, gets to be an actual fighter and smartie pants for most of the movie. She’s a tough cookie, she smokes, she wallops the bejesus out of…yeah. Just as she was in the book…ahem. And then, yeah. She has this epic fight in her apartment– I won’t go into it because SPOILERS– and the outcome is…SHE’S JUST ANOTHER VICTIM who needs SAVING by the Losers, all boys except for her!!!! who UNITE after a fight amongst themselves…to maybe SAVE BEVERLY FROM THE BAD CLOWN.
Fuck. No, just no. I about came out of my skin. Good day, I tell ya, good day!
I was disappointed with the downswing this movie seemed to take with Beverly’s direction/purpose/character arc. I expected more. It also seemed that third act/building to the showdown seemed…voted on by a committee of advertising reps trying to sell Summer’s Eve products. I expect such woman-in-peril shenanigans from every other horror/thriller/indie/art house/whatever movie on the planet but…sometimes you dream big. You hope gigantically that, maybe this time…it will be different.
There’s also a passage in the book that troubles many, including me. If you already know what that is, well, let’s just say…eh, Steve? What the Cheez Doodles? If you don’t know, go read the book because that passage gets left out…yeah. It’s where they’re in the kid phase of life yet, are disoriented in those sewer tunnels and…! Ahem. But it involved the only girl and it was…iffy. That’s as polite as I can get.
So, yeah, I do recommend this movie. So few actual good solid horror movies float to that swamp’s surface. The horror movies dreckfest swamp, located somewhere between Plan 9 From Outer Space and Annabelle, The Doll That Never Gains Weight. Or whatever the newest Annabelle movie is. What floats to the top would be the original Exorcist, the original Night of the Living Dead and Audition, for instance. Your list will be different than my list of what a ‘good’ horror film is. And that’s okay. For now.
It, the film, the movie, the entertainment juggernaut, has flaws. The clown is too on the nose, for my tastes and the descent into WOMEN IN HORROR FILMS same ole same ole treatment presents some major head-scratching from moi. But it also inspires me to write better heroines who can save themselves. Wootie woot.
To conclude, It was a fine, eh, flawed, eh, goddamn clowns don’t need to be scarier, you fucknuts…entry in the horror field. The previews sucked balls, except for the Stars Wars one. [Shut UP.]
Oh and stop turning women in horror films into damsels in distress, for the love of unicorns and manatees. I don’t care if you couldn’t think of a better third act. Jesus said, in the Gospels, do not fall back on tired Damsel in Distress mode when thou writeth a screenplay involving clowns.
It’s in the new, updated Bible. The one Conservadepia is not working on, by the way.
Here endeth my scholarly film dissection.
Oh, I’m going to write next about AHS:Clowns Fuck In My Supermarket and All I Can Do Is Scream. Which the producers shortened to Cult. It won’t be as long as my It novella.
An Afterthought– nope, not gonna apologize for another post. Nope nope nope! #NotSorry #ClownsRTheNuZombies