Thursday, February 1, 2018

In short: It (2017)

This is another case where general popularity and my taste diverge quite a bit. Supposedly, Andy Muschietti’s adaptation - which has neither the structure, nor most of the themes, nor the heart of the book by Stephen King it adapts – was one of the best horror movies of 2017. The film I watched on the other hand, was all the worst of the sort of mainstream horror filmmaking that understands the genre exclusively as a delivery mechanism for “scares” in one overlong package.

“Scares”, the film does indeed include. Way too many of them, as a matter of fact, for there’s barely a scene going by which doesn’t end on some sort of “shocking” supernatural manifestation (or at least some practical bullying). Because this is a technically well made film, for the first half an hour or so, this is okay, if a little monotonous, but the unrelenting series of shocks, jump scares, random Pennywise appearances and so on soon grow first thin, then tedious. It’s as if performing the same trick over and over and over for two hours straight does not an actual movie make.

Given the overwhelming amount of time Muschietti spends on increasingly disinteresting “horror” bits, it is no wonder the film lacks in many other regards: the characters are paper-thin one-note creatures only there to be scared and bullied and finally rally in a way the film doesn’t actually bother to prepare properly (again, no time for characterisation when you need to pop out a clown every five minutes), which is a particular shame given the brilliant book this is based on (say what you will about King, “paper-thin”, his characters aren’t). Mood-building or a sense of place are of course absent, too (guess why), as are any of the actual depths of the King novel, or even just a proper dramatic arc that doesn’t creak under its own mechanics.

In other words: I was hoping for a movie, but all I got was another lame house of horrors that clearly doesn’t even understand its source novel’s concept of evil and replaces it with an obnoxious evil clown so desperately designed to be scary he never actually is.

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