Pennywise the Dancing Clown

So mulling over IT…. I’ve had some time to consider… the movie. Before seeing it I liked the concept of separating the two.  The mini series was a mini series.  The film an adaption of the novel.  No remakes.  Two separate entities… two separate interpretations of the novel. So I tried not to compare the two in my mind.  All in all, as a 2017 horror film, it was good.  As an interpretation of the novel, it was good.  But as someone who is extremely underwhelmed by much of the made for the mainstream horror fan these days, it was disappointing.

I don’t know that I should be surprised it was disappointing.  I’ve been coming to the realization more and more lately about mainstream horror and how it always disappoints me while everyone else is like OMG I LOVE IT.  How, I have vivid childhood memories of horror films that today people are like “oh that movie sucked” – well, no no it didn’t back when it first came out and this new mainstream horror crowd keeps buying into these remakes and thinking “YES THIS THIS IS THE BEST.” and not giving the original the credit it deserves.  I’m sorry the original Last House on the Left is WAY Better than the remake (and yeah – I know it’s inspired by the Virgin Spring.  Anyway, this is not my point to ramble about mainstream horror per say.   But my thoughts on the film adaption of IT.

Not to compare… but an example of things I love about horror:  the opening of the mini series.  The little girl sees this friendly clown greeting her through sheets billowing in the wind.  Suddenly, the clown goes from happy clown to … evil and you don’t see what it does… but you know.  You know he just killed, likely eaten,  that little girl and the mom comes out and sees the bloody tricycle wheel spinning.  You don’t have to see the murder to know it happened.  You don’t need 500 gallons of blood to establish a death.  Fear has been psychologically proven to be the unknown.  Let our imaginations run wild because sometimes… that’s worse than reality.  Films these days leave nothing to the imagination. So our introduction of Pennywise the dancing clown comes as the infamous scene in which Georgie loses his boat down the sewer and Pennywise offers to bring him down there to the circus that got blown away.  Georgie, not scared of a clown in the sewer but scared of a damn cellar, decides to leave when Pennywise zones out with weird eyes, which I read was something Skarsgard could do on his own.  Which is interesting since I realized this was when it hit me.  I knew I wasn’t really feeling the Pennywise look but now I knew it.   I just felt like his look had too much CGI and fakeness to it.  His glowing eyes filled with effects.  His well-done makeup and mouth that made him look like a buck toothed drooling child… with a bit of bunny mixed in.   I mean his voice was okay.  He was trying to be a joyous clown.  So it’s okay that it was clearly over the top… I guess.  He did some great movements… you know the ones that weren’t overly helped with special effects. I just…. I appreciate natural effects and Tim Curry and the way he moved his mouth when he spoke was so incredibly creepy and this guy just has these cute little bunny buck teeth and then I’m like… uhh…you need a tissue bud?  You’re kinda drooling.  *sigh of disappointment *

Anyway, so Georgie goes to grab the boat and Pennywise’s teeth become CGI vicious and he rips off Georgie’s arm. UGH. You don’t need to SEE IT.  They don’t even later establish they found Georgie’s arm or anything, he’s just missing, so why did we have to see the fake special effects ripping off of the arm?  The rest of the scene was fine.

We meet the kids and I think that they do a great job at establishing Bill, who we only know from the current that he’s obsessed with finding his missing brother.  Richie is less of a comedian and more of that sarcastic tough ass jerk of a friend that you have.  Ben was good, I liked what they did with Ben. Eddie’s mom just seemed a disaster and Eddie was just annoying. Beverly made me think of Pippi Longstocking without the pigtails and I feel like they kinda glossed over any real abuse from her father and established her as a really tough young girl who learned to be tough and likely wasn’t going to end up marrying a man just like her father.  I mean child abuse isn’t something we need to see but I just didn’t feel it was well established and they made her far too tough, long before she even met IT.  Stan was great too but I think they kinda glossed over his idiosyncrasies too – mostly just establishing that he was Jewish and his father was a rabbi.  For some reason his father had some creepy woman painting in his office that he was afraid of for whatever reason and I was just like…why would anyone have that painting anyway!? Speaking of glossing over things, I feel like they hardly established much about Mike anyway (and man that kid who plays him reminds me of someone and I just can’t put my finger on who!).  So Mike’s family has been in Derry forever even though Ben was the one who knew Derry’s history because he spent time in the library studying it before he found friends.  His parents were killed in a fire.  But that’s about it.  Even his established friendship with the rest of the club came last, just before they go after IT and they saved him from the bullies they were like “ok cool you’re one of us now… let’s almost get you killed by bringing you with us to go after IT”

Ahhh and Henry Bowers and clan.  Well, I guess first I should complain the film was set in 1989.  WHAT?  WHY!  It’s 1958 you fools and even 27 years later it’s 1985!  Why did you choose 1989!?  What so you could make Molly Ringwald jokes, so you could throw in some New Kids on the Block laughter, so you could use an 80’s soundtrack and make the bullies have a trans am and listen to metal and like bands like Anthrax!?  Ohhhh and we can’t forget about the mullet that you give Henry Bowers.   The movie theater played Batman and Lethal Weapon.  Buddy, Lethal Weapon 2 came out in ’89.  Not the first one… maybe I missed the 2?  Oh, but why did they set it in 1989?  To cater to the mainstream crowd who was gonna have a good laugh at these things and to cater to a specific audience who these things would resonate with.  Don’t get me wrong, you know I love me some 80’s and I Love New Kids on the Block and they were some great little jokes between Ben and Bev but… come on now.  It was 1958. I’m really upset they changed the time frame.

One more thing.  Pennywise appears as a clown, but we know, they know, that he is now a clown.  He is something else.  That’s why he appears as their worst fears (though… Bev’s worst fear is blood?) A leper.  Georgie. That lady in the painting.  But why then, does he keep going back to the clown?  We see the dead lights briefly, once… but through the clown.  Always the clown.  Always back to the clown. Oh, so they are not scared of that? Ok. Back to the Clown.

Nope, another thing.  As I said we didn’t really get a lot of depth into Mike Hanlon and you know what else we didn’t get? WHY Henry Bowers hated him so much.  Henry hated Mike because he was racist.  Racism was still prevalent in 1958 but not as so in 1989, where the film takes place for whatever reason!  Henry never mentions his hatred of Mike due to him being black, due to the color of his skin and never once uses the N word, which was used in the mini series.   Glossed over.

Also glossed over was the fact that none of the adults in the town acted like anything was wrong.  The woman who saw Georgie talking to the storm drain then suddenly disappear with red blood all in the rain. Bev’s dad didn’t see the blood… Alllll the blood.  Pretty sure there was more blood in that bathroom than the blood volcano that Glen created when he was killed by Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Honestly, those are my main complaints.  Because everything else that ticked me off was how much blood they had to use, how much they had to show you and how fake everything was!  CGI has come a long way since 1990 and yet some of the qualities were sub par.  When IT comes out of the garage where they’re looking at slides? I literally laughed at how utterly ridiculous that looked. They certainly could have used more time to fix those effects.   SO MUCH of Pennywise’s movements and looks just seemed like they were nothing but CGI special effects and not at all practical and this is one of the things I loathe about movies since CGI has been established, we lose so many practical effects. Even the freaking balloons looked like special effects! Think about what Jaws would look like if it was made in 2017. There would have been no mechanical shark.  Just actors using their imagination to see a shark that was about to attack them.  So much over the top red red red blood. Even when they take the blood oath.  All the blood dripping from their hands… and Eddie, who already brought up the Aids epidemic, didn’t even fight it.

I didn’t hate the movie.  I didn’t love it though either.  Separating out my overly critical issues, it was a good movie.  The clown did a lot of great things. though no one in my audience screamed and shouted with fear.  The girl next to me actually fell asleep for a while I think.  They did a good job with the general interpretation of the story minus making Bev far too tough and failing to give Mike much establishment and not really giving the kids at all much depth.

I appreciated the end credits laughter, the clown that looked close to the original in the clown room as small homage’s to the mini series.   I didn’t hate it. I just… didn’t love it. It was… I mean, I guess it was okay but I was certainly disappointed and I guess I really shouldn’t have expected more.  I honestly feel like if they’d kept it in 1958 maybe I could have been okay with the whole thing but once I realized it was in a new random time frame I was … already disappointed.  I wonder if I see it again if… maybe… I could get over some of the things that plagued me throughout the film.  But I think my mind is made up.  IT wasn’t a bad film, but it was certainly disappointing to the little girl that’s been a horror fan her entire life still living inside of me.