A review by Shlomoh Sherman
October 25, 2017
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga (screenplay)
Stars: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard
Plot Keywords: clown - based on novel - sadism - supernatural - supernatural power
Plot Synopsis: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.
Genre: Drama - Fantasy - Horror
Taglines: We all float down here!
Motion Picture Rating: (MPAA)
Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language
See Parents Guide for this film below
Official Sites: http://itthemovie.com/, https://www.facebook.com/ITMovie/, https://www.instagram.com/itmovieofficial/, https://twitter.com/ITMovieOfficial
Country: USA - Canada
Release Date: September 8, 2017 (USA)
Filming Locations: Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Bangor, Maine, USA
Budget: $35,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: AUD 7,467,255 (Australia) (September 10, 2017)
Production Co: New Line Cinema, KatzSmith Productions, Lin Pictures
Runtime: 135 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital - Dolby Atmos - DTS (DTS: X)- Dolby Surround 7.1
Award: Golden Trailer Awards 2017 - Best Horror Movie, New Line Cinema
I've been a fan of Stephen King for many years. There was a time during which I would read his every newly published book. But somehow, he became too prolific for me to be able to catch up. Besides, I later became enamored with his contemporary, Dean Kuntz, whose books have much more idealized, hopeful endings.
IT was always one of my favorite King stories. Having read the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the book was being turned into a TV miniseries. I will say that the miniseries was excellently done. Although scripted by different writers, there are many similarities between the 1990 series written by Lawrence D. Cohen and the 2017 movie written by Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga. There are also significant differences.
Most of you reading this are, of course, already familiar with the plot. But for those few of you who are not, I give you IMDB's outline.
It -- In the summer of 1989, seven children come together and become a club creating an unbreakable force and bond. Using this bond the children dubbed 'The Losers Club' fight to save their town of Derry [Maine] from an eponymous being that can shapeshift into the children's greatest fears, commonly in the form of a clown named Pennywise whose mission is to kill and devour children. Throughout their summer of excitement and fear, they face several personal troubles with bullies, family, and confidence.
I watched this film very closely and what I ascertained from the 2017 film, I had missed in the 1990 series, and that is: long before the appearance of the evil clown, these seven children had been victims of their own personal monsters. Each of the children has at least one parent whose treatment of him and her can only be described as abusive.
Bill Denbrough, the unofficial leader of the Losers, suffers the tragic death of his younger brother, Georgie. When Georgie is dragged down a sewer drain by an evil entity, the tone of the story is set. Bill suffers guilt for making a paper boat for Georgie which the kid takes out to the street to play with. The boat floats down the street and falls into the sewer drain. Here is where Georgie [and the audience] first encounter Pennywise, and here is where Georgie meets his death. Bill also suffers from a stuttering disorder for which he is mocked by the town bullies. He is also the victim of his father's wrath brought on by the death of Georgie.
Eddie Kaspbrak is a hypochondriac, suffering from what he believes is asthma. He later discovers that his overbearing mother is the true source of his hypochondria.
Stan Uris is the son of a rabbi. He is studying for his BAR MITZVAH, learning his HAFTORAH which is a section of the Prophets that a BAR MITSVAH reads on the Sabbath closest to his 13th birthday. It is not merely read but chanted in melodies which reach back thousands of years. Stan's father is upset that he is not doing very well in his studies, indicting him with being more interested in spending time with his friends than living up to his religious obligations.
Beverly Marsh is a girl ostracized over rumors of promiscuity. In truth, she has been sexually abused by her father for a long time.
Benjamin Hanscom is a new kid at school and consequently does not have any friends. He likes reading and researching so he spends a lot of time in the library. He is also very overweight. Ben is bullied at school.
Richard Tozier is a bespectacled best friend of Bill Denbrough. His loud mouth and foul language often get him into trouble
Michael Hanlon is an African American homeschool student and outsider. Orphaned in a fire and raised by his stern grandfather, he is reluctant to take up the family trade as a butcher.
Aside from each having to deal with an overbearing parent, as a group, they are beset and harassed by the bully, Henry Bowers, and his gang.
In spite of all the difficulties of their own personal victimization, it is these seven children who join forces to defeat the monstrous clown. Watching the film, I realized for the first time that none of the adults in Derry are aware of the presence of the monster, and the children do not tell the elders.
The film takes marvelous advantage of CGI, unavailable to the 1990 series. The film also rightly is given a R rating due to its use of profanity, the F-bomb being liberally dropped by the children to express their anger and frustration at their life situation.
Both Bill Skarsgård and Tim Curry have given us their own interpretation of Pennywise, each significantly his own. The evil in Curry's Pennywise is gleeful. You can sense a substratum of giggling throughout his performance. The evil in Skarsgard's Pennywise is entirely nasty and malicious. He absolutely hates the children, probably because their own innocence is a counterpoint and disavowal of evil.
As the film draws to a close, you realize that only half the story is being told. In the final moments of the movie, Beverly informs the group of a vision she had while catatonic, where she saw them fighting the creature as adults. The Losers swear a blood oath that they will return to Derry as adults if It returns and destroy the creature once and for all. Beverly tells Bill she is leaving the next day to live with her aunt in Portland. Before she leaves, Bill reveals his feelings of love and they kiss.
On the screen, the title appears: IT: CHAPTER ONE
For those who have read King's book, the character of Pennywise does not appear as much as we might expect. In fact, some have noted that his appearance is minimal. Instead, we hear the kids TALK about Pennywise, and IT appears to the kids in different forms other than that of the clown; mostly in the image that each kid fears the most.
King lets us know that the town of Derry is one plagued by violence, unusual for a town of its size. Every 27 years, especially the crime rate soars. Rape, incest, breaking and entering, auto theft, child abuse, spouse abuse, and assault reach their peak. Quoting King,
It is this aura of the everyday horror of Derry itself which probably enables Pennywise to reappear.
At least one reviewer [Ryan Hollinger - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTSnIYnj3pQ] has noted that Derry itself IS It, and its inhabitants have long been held captive in IT's embrace. This is alluded to in the description of Derry's massive sewer system which seems to stretch out endlessly.
Other of King's stories set in Derry: The Body (1982), Insomnia (1994), Bag of Bones (1998),
KUDOS to writers Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga who did a more than adequate job translating King's story to the screen. Not all of King's stories do well as films. Some of them are an embarrassment.
Over the course of weeks, I asked many friends to come with me to see the movie and every one of them declined. Even those close to me who love horror movies said that the IT movie would be too scary for them and cause them nightmares. It reminded me of when THE EXORCIST came out and there were very few people I knew who were willing to see it with me.
By now, the character and image of Pennywise have become so well known that real-life professional clowns have been offended, stating that the Pennywise character will encourage people to think of clowns as scary and murderous. See Trivia below. As if clowns haven't scared many people long before Stephen King came up with the story of IT.
An article at Business Insider [http://www.businessinsider.com/] asks "Does anyone really like clowns? Clowns have long been associated with a dark and disturbing history — murder, financial ruin, infidelity, and pedophilia." The entire piece is worth reading, but here is at least one historical event that contributed to a negative perception of clowns. In the '70s, John Wayne Gacy — a registered clown — was arrested for sexually assaulting and killing more than 35 young men in the Chicago area. He told investigating officers, "You know clowns can get away with murder." Gacy was executed in 1994.
I will leave you with part of the September 1, 2017, review written by Rhiannon Irons (Australia). You can read his full review on IMDB website.
There is no doubt that Stephen King is a master of storytelling, especially tales of horror. Since many of his tales involve the helplessness of children, I believe he is embedding strong social messages that speak out behind the killings and gore displayed on the screen. But unlike my other reviews, I will not urge you to see the movie unless clowns don't scare you. And to those of you willing to see it, remember - WE ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE!!!!!!!!
Did You Know?
PARENTS GUIDE FOR IT (2017)
MPAA - Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language Certification
SEX AND NUDITY
VIOLENCE AND GORE
ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND SMOKING
FRIGHTENING AND INTENSE SCENES
Perhaps no one has made clowns scarier than Stephen King and Tim Curry. - - How the Original IT Miniseries Traumatized a Generation of Kids
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3dpSi4tWhg -- See the Pennywise trailer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5KXbMXcBYA -- IT ending explained. Will there be a sequel?
Read my review of IT: Chapter Two HERE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTSnIYnj3pQ -- Childhood Morality and Horror Analysis
Read about IT On the Internet Movie Data Base
Cast overview, first billed only:
Jaeden Lieberher ... Bill Denbrough
Jeremy Ray Taylor ... Ben Hanscom
Sophia Lillis ... Beverly Marsh
Finn Wolfhard ... Richie Tozier
Chosen Jacobs ... Mike Hanlon
Jack Dylan Grazer ... Eddie Kaspbrak
Wyatt Oleff ... Stanley Uris
Bill Skarsgård ... Pennywise
Nicholas Hamilton ... Henry Bowers
Jake Sim ... Belch Huggins
Logan Thompson ... Victor Criss
Owen Teague ... Patrick Hockstetter
Jackson Robert Scott ... Georgie Denbrough
Stephen Bogaert ... Mr. Marsh
Stuart Hughes ... Officer Bowers
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