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Movies E.C. McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C. McMullen Jr.
It
HELP A LOSER!
TIP JAR
IT (2019)
MOVIE REVIEW
IT (1990)
MOVIE REVIEW
Stephen King
REVIEW INDEX
REVIEW INDEX
IT - 2017
USA Release: Sept. 8, 2017
KatzSmith Productions, Lin Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros.
Rating: USA: R

It begins with two Denbrough brothers. The young one is Georgie and the older one is Bill.

Little Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) idolizes his big brother Bill (Jaeden Martell: MIDNIGHT SPECIAL), and never seems to notice his older sibling's stutter. One day when Bill was feeling ill and irritable, he sent his little brother Georgie away to go play outside in the rain with the newspaper boat Bill made him.

Merry mishaps occur to poor Georgie and he was never seen alive again.

Only we know what happened to him.

Time passed and Bill never forgot. He couldn't. The guilt of irritably sending his little brother out into the rain holds him in his sickening grip.

The police can't solve the disappearance, which isn't saying much in a town like Derry. Children are disappearing all of the time and the police can't solve any of the cases.

Bill's parents have lived through every second of What Ifs?

His father Zach (Geoffrey Pounsett: FALLING FIRE, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, SAW IV, TOTAL RECALL [2012]) is exhausted by the police interviews, questions, neighbor rumors, wonderings, doubts, and his own guilt. He doesn't want to talk about it anymore. He doesn't want Bill to keep cluttering his workspace with new questions about Georgie. He doesn't care if Bill has to, but stop forcing him to relive Georgie's disappearance.

Georgie is gone. He's gone in Derry where children are never found again.

All of the adults who grew up as children in Derry grew into damaged adults.

Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer: TALES OF HALLOWEEN) is a friend of Bill. Eddie's Mother inflicts herself on her son with manipulation and lies to keep him close.

Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) is the rumored slut of junior high school. Beverly's father inflicts himself on his daughter with manipulation, accusations, and a sweaty, creepy interest in her becoming a woman.

Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) lived in Derry long enough to see his parents die in a house fire: hearing them scream to death. He feels he might have saved them, except he was too scared. His childish cowardice haunts him. His Uncle butchers sheep for a living and is adamant that Mike know the difference between being a predator and prey. His Uncle insists that Mike become a predator.

Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [all]) has a Rabbi father who ignores him except when he wants to punish him.

Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is the big fat new kid. We never learn about his parents, only that the town bully and local gang leader, Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton: STRANGERLAND, THE DARK TOWER), enjoys torturing him and wants him dead for no other reason than sadistic kicks. Ben isn't physically built for "getting away".

As violent and brutal as he is, Henry Bowers has a parent who inflicts himself on his child. Mister Bowers (Stuart Hughes: FOOD OF THE GODS II, EVIDENCE OF BLOOD, TROUBLED WATERS, CLIENT SEDUCTION, ORPHAN BLACK [TV]) is a local Police Officer who grew up in Derry. He publicly humiliates his son, forcing him to be scared, frightened in front of others. It's a shadow young Henry is incapable of escaping and the fear is driving him mad and violent.

All of these damaged kids will have their strings pulled by a mysterious predator that hides in the shadows and preys on children.

No one has a name for It, It comes in various guises, whatever scares you, although it seems to prefer the disguise of a clown called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård: STARFIGHTER: KENNY BEGINS, HEMLOCK GROVE [TV], ALLEGIANT, ATOMIC BLONDE, DEADPOOL 2).

Stephen King's novels often get short shrift by Hollywood studios. Conversely, the worst are generally made by people King trusts the most while the best or at least most popular are the ones made by people whose interpretations King has openly detested. Director Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING immediately comes to mind. Jack Nicholson's insanely evil grin has come to represent Stephen King's novel more than King's own name.

IT the novelKing's 1986 bestseller IT, is one of his more popular novels, however. A massive tome (clocking in at over 1,100 pages in hardcover), IT is arguably well-regarded as widely to Horror fans as THE LORD OF THE RINGS is to fans of fantasy*.

*Although THE STAND might give IT a run for IT's money.

In fact, because King is so prolific, his fans are split into subsets of story categories. For example, seeing the Castle Rock kids from the novella Stand By Me, and the kids in Derry, all being part of an even larger story (don't send me in-depth emails. I know the bulk-container can of worms I just opened).

In the years since, King began drawing connective strings across the maps of these tales. Because of this, few authors are as strongly connected to their bodies of work as King is. I've been to readings where hardcore fans know more about specific novels that the author remembers.

I wouldn't be surprised if King no longer has this problem.

Stephen always liked the original TV IT for what it was, accepting its TV censor and other limits and coming away still impressed for what director Tommy Lee Wallace achieved.

From the beginning, however, King took a shine to an early screening of Director Andy Muschietti's (MAMA) version of IT.

Problem was, Warner Bros. did not like the original script.

So writing credit also goes to Gary Dauberman (ANNABELLE, WITHIN, WOLVES AT THE DOOR, ANNABELLE: CREATION), who was willing to put the studio's flurry of Post-It Note spins both on the King novel and writers Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga's (TRUE DETECTIVE) original screenplay, with Dauberman toning down the horror of Chase and Cary's original vision and bringing it more in line with WB's sedate 1990 TV version of IT.

TRIVIA

Warner Bros. Post-It Note suits believed so strongly that they had screwed the movie so badly, and it would perform so terribly, that they didn't bother with preparing the second half of the movie or even having a script ready for it

Despite all of this intrigue and subterfuge, Director Andy, with his sister Barbara Muschietti running interference for him as Producer (one of a ton of producers on this movie), still managed to craft one of the best Stephen King movies ever made.

Through a camera eye that never seems to stop moving and always moves toward where we think we want our attention drawn toward, we become attached to the band of misfits who become known as The Loser's Club.

Thanks go to Cinematographer, Chung-hoon Chung (OLDBOY [2003], ANTARCTIC JOURNAL, LADY VENGEANCE, THIRST) for emotionally having the light where it needs to be, the dark, the shadows: shadows even in places that seem otherwise bright, that bring the dread, Horror, and genuine scares in this movie to a place that is real and palpable.

We recognize our own childhood bullies in Henry Bowers and his gang of overgrown assholes, though the fact that his childhood is also horrible and humiliating gave me no compassion for him. He's dealing with the same influence of a monster which has long preyed on the town of Derry, but unlike The Losers, he made the wrong choice in how to handle it.

More kudos must also go to the flawless marriage of practical and CGI effects. The only time the CGI ever looked bad (Pennywise dancing in fire comes to mind), is when a fakey, cheap carnival-puppet look was called for.

Derry has long been Stephen King's mythical Uglytown, USA. In Director Andy Muschietti's hands, IT becomes a knife plunged into your brain's most shadowy fears.

Five Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2017 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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