Movie Review: It

Movie Review: It

Movie Review: It

From all reports, the movie It, based on the Stephen King novel, is blowing away the box office. Which must feel like the arrival of a prayed-for rainstorm after the dismal drought of the summer.

From the first Friday in May to Labor Day, a period that typically accounts for 40 percent of annual ticket sales, box office revenue in the United States and Canada is expected to total roughly $3.78 billion, a 16 percent decline from the same period last year, according to comScore, which compiles ticketing statistics.

Does It deserve its box office bonanza? Or is the movie just good enough to bring back the crowds who, having spent the summer away, are eager for that theater experience?

Maybe and yes.

So let me summarize the movie for you, then go into a little more depth when you click the “continue to read”. Fair warning, spoilers will be in the continued area. Now you may think no one could possibly not know of the book or the earlier tv mini-series, but yes, there are such people. Like my husband.

Let me start from the top. I give this movie a solid “B” grade. It is a visually engaging movie, the special effects are top notch and I’m enthralled with such the fine and talented group of kids assembled to make up the Losers Club. HOWEVER, the movie falls short by leaving anyone not familiar with the source material confused. The sound effects become overbearing and, well, frankly the director was less concerned about building suspense then in showing his best scare moves from the getgo. And one can only go to the well once or twice with a particular way of shocking the audience before it becomes predictable. Based on some coming attractions for future “horror movies”, It still remains one of the better crafted movies of the genre and I would still recommend seeing it.

If you have continued reading, then I assume you are familiar with the story of the small Maine town of Derry and a small group of middle-schoolers, The Losers, who experience a summer of horror at the hands of a nameless force.

The novel, written in 1986, still sells strongly and ranks as one of the scariest horror novels of the late 20th century. However, as we’ve seen in other adaptations of Stephen King novels, the horror genre ones are rarely successful. Which brings us to the major misses of this movie that keeps it from being more than an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.

One, is that for audience members who came to this movie with no familiarity with the source material, there was no point to the evil. What “it” is, is never clarified. Movies that give some sort of dimension to the horror faced end up on the “ooo! let’s watch this again!” list. When I found myself trying to explain what “It” was to my husband, I knew the hints of explanation in the film were so slim it only caused more confusion.

Such confusion may have also been a result of what I consider the second major issue – a lack of suspense.

In the movie Jaws, the audience is deliberately lead into a state of gripping dread. We clearly see incidents of horror but we never really see the perpetrator until more than half way through the movie. Now It runs over two hours and I can only recall two scenes that meet the suspense criteria of a truly great horror film.

One is the scene where Bill Denbrough is grieving in the bedroom of his murdered little brother late at night and we, the audience, suddenly realize there is a shadow on the door to the room. And we notice only as it slides away.

The other scene is when Stan is putting away a book in his father’s office. Just out of focus, in the shadows behind him, we see the outline of a painting we earlier saw as he entered the room. But the figure behind him now moves.

These were effective scenes because they hark back to the book about things just out of the corner of one’s eyes. Is there really something in the shadows, or is it an innocent jacket tossed over a chair? But most of the movie indulges in having things jump out at the audience – and yes, it does make you jump – usually accompanied by heavy-handed use of the sound system’s subwoofer. Once or twice, this can be effective, but by the third, fourth, fifth time, the thrill is gone.

This loss of subtlety, this sacrifice of suspense, in the film’s eagerness to show the scary clown doing scary things has really cost this film a chance of becoming more than being regulated to cult status.

Now where the movie really shines is with the relationships within the Losers Club. There are some genuinely funny and touching moments among this squabbling band of innocent misfits and I wish the director had focused more from the point of view of their coming to grips with the horror than on the horror itself.

Still, it is a film that will entertain you for an afternoon without lecturing you, and isn’t that escape worth it?

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