Squeedar musings: It (2017)
After watching the televised 1990 IT miniseries (thoughts and love for that can be found here), I was confident that I was ready to handle the 2017 remake of the miniseries. There was slight trepidation knowing that it was a modern remake so there would most likely be jump scares and sinister updates.
I was not prepared for the horrible swelling music that threatens to smoosh my brains into a pile of goo. Nor for the blatant destruction of the motivation and heart of the mini series. Or how much I would genuinely hate all of the “new” Loser Club members and was actively cheering on this version of Pennywise to just eat them all.
Gone were the sense of adventure of friends banding together to fight a demon. Elements ofsuspense and a good horror story were gone to make way for typical modern horror movie tactic. Everything was just so bloody obvious or just bloody excessive.
I hated it. I hated it all so much.
For those who loved modern horror movie tricks of weird cinematography (such as the head being fixed and the rest of the scene is moving so it creates this dizzying effect), jump scares at every single possible moment, the swelling of music, no cleverness , just killing, then this movie is for you.
I am not one for horror but I am one who appreciates a good scary story. A scary story that has you gripping your hands waiting to see what happens in the next moment. When you don’t even realize you held your breath until you start to get dizzy. Twilight Zone episodes and the Fog are the kind of horror stories I am willing to put myself through. Or even when you align with the monster.
The new It movie will be broken up into sequels with the next installment announced for 2019. The first installment focuses primarily on the children portion of the story. Pretending that I have never seen the mini-series, I still hate this group. I seriously question why the heck they are even friends. Of all the Loser kids that annoyed me the most was Richie (played by Stranger Things, Finn Wolfhard). As the joker of the group, his constant sex jokes were embarrassing. The first few times were endearing but the remainder was just..please stop. We get it. We get all of it.
There was no chemistry or anything bonding these kids. Richie made fun of everybody and was just an angry little booger. Bill (played by Jaeden Lieberher) was sweet but forgettable. As the “leader”/ “protagonist”, he was pretty lackluster and I am really struggling to remember him. Eddie (played by Jack Dylan Grazer) was just so whiny. Why did he even hang out with these kids if everything freaked him out? The only thing I see is that they only hang out with each other because they live in the same town.
The big difference between the two movies is the time period it is set in. In It (1990), the story with the children is set in the mid fifties while It (2017) is set in the eighties. Those are two different cultures for children. I can really believe Georgie would chase after a paper boat in the fifties but would Georgie in the 80’s would? Yes, the paper boat is a vital iconic scene of the movie but I still question it so much. Why would a kid in the eighties go out in the rain to play with a paper boat? Would he not rather stay at home and play his GI Joes or Transformers?
Would it have hurt to show any scenes of these kids bonding as kids? Other than the only one real cool scene of the rock battle, what is binding these kids?! I would really expect to seem them all at the arcade or just sitting at home playing by them.
Reverting back to comparing this movie to the televised version, it absolutely grates my nerves that the role of the record keeper was taken from Mike (played by Chosen Jacobs) to Ben (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor). Mike, being the only black kid in the group and the one target racially by the bully, had the most important role of record keeper. He was the one who connected the events from history to current events, he had the knowledge, and older Mike was the one who stayed behind in town as the librarian to watch. When older Mike sees the history repeating himself he is the one who sends the distress call.
Ben was not only ostracized for his weight but he also had to deal with being forced to live with relatives that hated him. Both Mike and Ben had their own problems that shaped their character and honed their strength.
It appears that the 2017 remake stripped Mike the role of record keeper and then added the need to overcome his fear of killing animals to hammer the lesson of strength and not being at the wrong side of the gun? No surprise that this little lesson his father gives him at the beginning of the movie shows up at the show in a showdown between him and the town bully. That role of analyzing history and record keeper was a unique role to a minority character. It portrayed him not just as a token minority characterwho is separated due to skin color but as the one who unifies them all.
Even more terrifying than Pennywise in both films is the town mega bully, Henry Bowers. Of all the characters, Henry is the only one that is consistent in personality and decade. In the modern remake, Henry (played by Nicolas Hamilton) is more menacing and is another step closer in completely unhinging his humanity. There might have been an issue of censorship with the televised series but Henry in the 1990 series was still a pretty scary bully in his relentless to hurt and torture the Loser Club. To be honest, there is not much creativity needed for Patrick as the town bully.
Then there is the biggest heartaches and annoyance: Pennywise. Everyone agrees that Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise in the televised series was hands down iconic and amazing. He was charismatic, funny, menacing, and definitely unsettling. Pennywise the dancing clown is the human form that he uses to lure his victims. He manipulates his victims perception of reality by weird occurrences and hallucinations. He is a predator who has hunkered down in a town with a ready source of food. His tactics are meant to draw you in with his charisma and antics but then he would stun you in disbelief or to unsettle you enough to be frozen in fear.
I don’t have anything much to say about Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. He has minimum dialogue. The most he speaks is in the beginning with luring Georgie or at the end of the movie with the cartoonish evil monologue he delivers to Beverly. I don’t really see any acting or performance. It is just him behind a deadpan expression of clown makeup. His motivations for killing for the children are not explained or hinted (although this may be alluded to in the next installment) . All of his tactics are to scare not to lure. That dance in the fireplace? Internet gold but strange. I don’t even want to touch on the literal application of the iconic phrase: “we all float down here.”
It is now mentally exhausting to continue as these thoughts are only the tip of the iceburg of my issues with the IT (2017). All of it is seeping from a deep sense of disappointment. The hype surrounding the movie gave me false hope. My expectations for a modern remake were to keep the heart of the story but update the horror elements. Instead, I witnessed a movie with tired cliche horror elements. Plus, that swelling music really did not help.
I am most definitely outvoted in terms of the sheer volume of love for this remake. I will gladly pass this movie over to those fans. The 1990 version of It, even with it’s corniness and faults, is my preference.