It (2017)
September 7, 2017 7:13 PM - Subscribe

A group of bullied kids band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.
posted by Countess Elena (25 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I bought the first available ticket and looked forward to this like a Star Wars fan. The movie wasn't perfect, but I was not disappointed. There is a lot of horror here and I jumped like a girl. The rest of the audience did too. There was a lot of whooping and laughter, but also actual screams. I had a lot of thoughts, because that is what I do.

Nobody can out-Curry Tim Curry, so Bill Skarsgård doesn't try. He's on a different wavelength. Curry's Pennywise is scary because he looks like an actual working clown, a big cheerful bastard in greasepaint and pompoms, who just happens to be down in the sewers and to know your every thought. That's terrifying. Skarsgård's Pennywise is an alien thing that learned what a clown looks like about two hundred years ago, and has been aping it ever since. He's acrobatic and slender, and moves like a human shouldn't. That is terrifying, too. It's different and I like it.

In the novel and in the miniseries, It has an undeniably sexual menace -- leering, threatening, offering -- because King understands how terrifying sexuality is to children. That's absent here, because the adult characters deliver that vibe, and plenty of it. Instead, It is deeply inhuman, capable of delivering bizarre sights and hallucinations that weren't possible on the big or the small screen when the novel was new.

Also, Pennywise, true to his soi-disant title for once, actually dances. It is at first ridiculous. Then it is deeply unsettling. Then it is horrifying.

A nice touch that I noticed: at one point, as the kids enter a room, they are chattering to each other about Michael Jackson's Neverland -- "he has a pet chimp, and a rollercoaster, and ..." This dialogue is quickly cut off and never comes up again, but I thought it was an excellent stroke of subtext that would have been totally unavailable before the '80s were over.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:37 PM on September 7 [9 favorites]


I'm gonna go ahead and assume that if you're here and reading then you've seen the movie or don't mind spoilers. With that in mind:

"I bought the first available ticket and looked forward to this like a Star Wars fan. The movie wasn't perfect, but I was not disappointed. There is a lot of horror here and I jumped"

My ticket wasn't the first one sold, but it was to the first showing in town. This book was one of my favorites when I was a young teen and I've remembered it fondly since, even though I realize parts of it are problematic in a very weird way. Anyway, in anticipation of the movie I re-read it recently and if you want to know my thoughts on the book as an adult they're all right here.

I am not a horror movie aficionado and I'm not really into being scared, but I went to this film relishing the thought that maybe they were going to deliver some deep chills and they totally did. I mean there were a few jump scares, sure, but there was one part that was just so ... just so protracted and and straightforwardly scary in an unexpected way that it had the hair standing up on my arms. It was the projector scene for me - I thought the trailer had spoiled me for, you know, everything that was going to happen. And when it didn't stop, and then kept not stopping, and everyone in the theater was keyed in just like me and we were all recoiling and unbelieving and basically right there with the Losers ... yeah, that was great.

and then of course the jump scares were good too.

I read part of some review, dunno where, that said that Muschietti did a good job of mixing up the scares and I think that's true. I was never sure at all what was coming next. I think one of the best ones was Mike Hanlon's first encounter, honestly. The way it was resolved was cliched (scare interrupted by outside force) but the sheer murkiness of the scene was wonderful. I was right there with him feeling his confusion and dread and horror.

I also loved when Mike was being beaten up by the bullies and he sees Pennywise waving a severed arm, and in a subsequent scene someone mentions a victim's arm being off (Eddie Corcoran, I think) and I thought it was a nice reference.

As far as I'm concerned all the kids handled themselves perfectly. I didn't get any of that sense of "ugh, horrible pre-teen actor" that happens so often. This goes right up there with Stranger Things in terms of movies and shows that didn't disappoint by casting some popular kid who can't deliver. Okay so maybe Bill was a bit bland but hey, he's not King Charisma in the book either, you know?

My recent re-read had me feeling all the feels I have about Stan. As a kid I didn't understand (obviously) what it was like to grow up, to forget, to smother some trauma and keep it inside and poison yourself, to lose your friends to age and time and distance. I had no empathy for the kind of pain that pushes someone to take their own life. Now he's the main thing I think about when I think about the book. With that in mind, I couldn't help but feel a pang in every scene where he's hesitant, where he's at the rear of the group, where he is the first to look up from the group hug, and is the first to leave after the swearing-to-return ceremony. And the movie certainly gave him an even bigger trauma to choke down and live with for as long as he could. Man. Poor, poor Stan.

I'll leave it to someone else to discuss some plotting and pacing issues and some hokey dialogue in parts. I also have lots of thoughts about how the script dealt with Beverly, especially taking her out of action to become the bait in a trap, but I'm sure someone more eloquent than I am will come along with a nuanced reaction.

Overall, for me personally as a fan who recently re-read the book and didn't feel those old "oh my god I'm not going to be able to sleep" terrors that he used to and really hoped the movie would re-capture them: A+, delivered 100%. I can't wait to hear from some folks who haven't read the book and have no idea what all's been cut out, and what they think about it.

and in conclusion: I knew 'that scene' would be unfilmable and I'm so grateful they didn't even try, not that anyone in their right mind would have. I'll take one kiss from Ben and a group hug any day.
posted by komara at 8:26 PM on September 7 [7 favorites]


God, yes, poor Stan.

I really enjoyed that! I was expecting to be underwhelmed, but considering the reams of text they had to condense, they did a decent job of it. I was in as soon as Pennywise's feral eyes shifted to blue for George. I could have done with maybe skipping out a couple minor Pennywise encounters for some more character work (Mike in particular needed more time)(man, the change to his backstory was brutal), but on the whole it felt like the world of the book.

They updated to the '80s, but other than the NKOTB poster and some hints in costumes in some minor characters, they didn't neon it up -- the color palette really tied back to the 50s, and I liked that.

I was waiting for Paul Bunyan to say hi and he never did, but I was happy he was there.

I noticed two turtles. And the Tracker Brothers Co. and Freese's Department Store tees. And Bill's house had those brass butterflies on the wall that were also in my house in the 80s, so spot-on prop work, there.

The change to Patrick Hockstetter was also appreciated. Blech.
posted by rewil at 12:18 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


I have plenty of nitpicks, but I really really liked this. I'm most impressed with the use of humor...There are genuine laughs throughout, while still treating the situation and the threats very seriously.

I haven't read the book but am very familiar with the TV movie...I presume that Mike was the one with all of the town history info in the book (as he was in the old adaptation)? Sucks that they took that away from that character to give to Ben...And I thought in the end both characters were under-developed overall.

Despite that, I thought all of the kid actors ranged from good to great...I especially liked Richie and Eddie. Oh, and Bev was fantastic. Finn Wolfhard and Jaeden Lieberher were the only actors I was familiar with before this (not counting Bill Skarsgård, and hey look there's Steven Williams as Mike's grandfather! Nice to see an actual 80s mainstay in this 80s movie).
posted by doctornecessiter at 4:39 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]


"I used to be It..."
posted by gauche at 9:48 AM on September 8 [5 favorites]


I thought the movie was pretty good. Good performances, great visuals, and a nice creepy atmosphere throughout. The audience I was with didn't seem scared at all, though.

The big downside for me: Everything felt rushed, and even though book purists probably hate me, I think Stan (as a character) could be cut and you wouldn't really lose anything. I had to look at Wikipedia to confirm that he was even in the book, and what he did there. The real effect of a lack of time is that the kids just feel suddenly like friends - Mike especially, as he's added late to the group. Henry also doesn't feel quite as real, because he has a lot less time to ramp up.

Still, not a bad popcorn horror movie.
posted by codacorolla at 1:26 PM on September 8


I saw It opening night, and was surprised by how many people in the audience made surprised/excited noises when it ended with the 'Chapter One' subtitle... like... I guess nobody read the book? Or even saw the 1990 miniseries? I am old. (And an admitted book snob. I've never re-watched the miniseries because I had such a hard time taking grown up Bill seriously. I mean, John-boy Walton with aviator glasses and a ponytail mullet felt kind of dated even at the time.)

It is arguably my favorite Stephen King novel and for me this was a pretty satisfying distillation of half of it, but it was admittedly shallow compared to the source material; there's just not really any way around it given the time constraint of a single film to tell the Losers' childhood story. It was unfortunate that Mike got particularly short shrift in this adaptation (all the more noticeable because he has a much more prominent role as a narrator in parts of the book.)

I was really stunned by the extent to which the filming locations looked just like the Derry of my own mind's eye. Except the house on Neibolt Street... while delicious, it was completely over the top for its neighborhood. In the book I believe it was just as run-down, but more of a simple saltbox/cottagey place like the others near the railyard. But it would be tough to convey that level of pervasive menace and dread in a nondescript house on the screen, I suppose.

It was nice to see the ways they condensed and/or reworked little touches to keep elements from the book in the film; the Tracker Brothers and Freese's t-shirts were totally unnecessary but clearly done with love for the source material (and for fans of the source material.)

I'll be curious to see who gets cast for Chapter Two.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 3:01 PM on September 10


Saw it last night and loved it. I was especially happy with the characterization of Richie, who was a funny smartass in the way kids actually are, instead of the Catskills shtick of the miniseries (and even the book). I've been thinking about "and now I'm going to have to kill this fucking clown" all day.
posted by Ragged Richard at 4:03 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


Except the house on Neibolt Street... while delicious, it was completely over the top for its neighborhood. In the book I believe it was just as run-down, but more of a simple saltbox/cottagey place like the others near the railyard. But it would be tough to convey that level of pervasive menace and dread in a nondescript house on the screen, I suppose.

Yeah, I'm not familiar with small town Maine, but I'm not sure how many decaying Second Empire homes there were sitting around in 1989. It seems to me they'd either be collapsed rubble or restored. That said, housing has never really been portrayed realistically in tv or movies with maybe the exception of early Spielberg. There's like that one street in Pasadena that is in 80% of everything ever, because nobody wants to see a treeless mcmansion exurban wasteland on the big screen.

My biggest beef was that it obviously looked like a movie set, which I guess I guess you could make a No-Prize explanation for, but whatever. Also, the inside bore no semblance to the interior, which again, No-Prize, but maybe have one of the kids comment on it?

It was a fun ride, though.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:47 AM on September 11


"housing has never really been portrayed realistically in tv or movies with maybe the exception of early Spielberg"

I think there's one shining example where it was done right and that was A Serious Man. In the DVD extras they even show how they digitally altered some of the houses (and landscape) to represent what St Louis Park, MN would have looked like in the 1960s. From the city's Wikipedia page: "The Coen brothers set their 2009 film A Serious Man in St. Louis Park circa 1967. It was important to the Coens to find a neighborhood of original-looking suburban rambler homes as they would have appeared in St. Louis Park in the mid-1960s, and after careful scouting they opted to film scenes in a neighborhood of nearby Bloomington, as well as at St. Louis Park's B'nai Emet Synagogue, which was later sold and converted into a school."

Having bored you with all that I'll return to the subject at hand: the house on Niebolt Street. I too agree that it was waaaaay over the top. Speaking as a photographer who works only in still images (I mean that's the definition, I know, but) I often find myself looking at something - a house or commercial structure - that is absolutely fascinating and I want to photograph it. Then once I try to start framing it out I realize, "This is only interesting because of context, because all the buildings on the road before it and after it inform [us/the viewer] of what 'normal' is in this situation. Unless I can magically include the journey that got me here then this image won't have any impact on the viewer."

all of which is a roundabout way of saying that the filmmakers chose to go with the high-impact model: make something that would be striking regardless of where you drop it. Their Niebolt house would be out of place in any neighborhood and therefore they can excuse themselves with not showing the neighborhood. I would have far preferred it as I saw it in my mind when I read the book: the last house in a line of houses, and it's the sick one at the end that just doesn't quite fit in, but isn't deliberately over-the-top ominous and cartoonish.

so yeah. A little more work on their part would have stripped some of the cartoonishness away while (in my opinion) increasing the true uneasiness and fear quotient. But I get it, scary clown movie needs scary clown house.

"Also, the inside bore no semblance to the interior"

If I'm not mistaken there's some Tardis-effect stuff that happens in the book where the hallways get longer and people start getting lost, but I could be conflating that with one of the Dark Tower books that has a similar effect.
posted by komara at 12:12 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


I have not read the book. I was familiar with Curry's Pennywise but didn't have the wherewithal to make it through the miniseries.

And I thought the movie was really good! Broader in scope and funnier than I was expecting, and I liked that. It touched on kind of a lot, which made it feel a little unfocused at points, but it all comes together quite well. I suppose that's what you get trying to do justice to an 1,100 page source document. I'd prefer it address the scope of what's going on in the book than cut it down to make a tighter thriller and I suspect that scale is part of what makes the story unique.

I wish Bev hadn't been used as a damsel at the end. I get that of all of them, Bev was the one the boys would put fear aside to save, but I think Eddie would have made more sense. He and Stan seemed the most vulnerable to fear, and it would have kind of mirrored and resolved the thing with his mom trying to use fear to separate him from his friends.

My preference in horror has changed as I've aged, I think. The sort of slasher/thriller "get chased by monsters" and "snoop around a haunted house" scenes were fun, but I don't find them especially scary as such. The tree photo in the library and the slide projector from the garage were genuinely spooky and I kind of wish they'd been allowed to stand as 'creeping dread' moments on their own, and not resolved with monster chases. But that's strictly personal taste from someone who's not a major horror aficionado.

All together I thought it was solid, and I'm glad I watched it in a full theater. It got really good crowd response, which heightens this kind of movie a lot.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 1:11 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, putting a Second Empire house over an old well was so strange that I wondered if that hadn't been in the book, among the many details I had forgotten. It wouldn't surprise me to know that the house had a novella-length history that I had completely forgotten reading about. The art nouveau fireplace was so over-the-top I thought it had to have been inspired by a real piece.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:39 PM on September 11


My recollection is that it was just a run down abandoned house, in the book and not the silly thing from Monster House....
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 1:51 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


"The tree photo in the library"

OH MAN you just reminded me of one of my favorite things - in the background of this scene there's a patron (on the left-ish side of the frame) who is just hulking and glowering at Ben every time the camera gives the reverse shot of his face. It's really unsettling and a fantastic minor detail. As soon as the balloon floats past she's back to doing normal patron-y stuff.
posted by komara at 2:51 PM on September 11 [5 favorites]


Monster House aside, I really enjoyed it and thought they did a great job condensing the novel. I especially loved the smoking Easter eggs in the library stacks scene and the way the headless boy moved. Very wrong. Reminded me of the freaky zombie movement from Last Train to Busan.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 3:08 PM on September 11


Phobos the Space Potato, I got a completely different take on Bev at the end. Bev was the strongest of all of them, she didn't fear IT like the others did, no doubt from having to live with her father all these years. She confronts her father and shows that she's not afraid of him anymore. She was the only one who didn't raise a hand when they were going into the house. It seems IT took her because she was the strongest and knew the others, most of whom were terrified and reluctant, would come for her. If IT had taken Eddie, it would have just eaten him because Eddie was so scared. IT didn't eat Bev because she stood up to it and showed she wasn't afraid. You can even see this in the film when Pennywise smells her and can't detect a trace of fear on her— Skarsgård's subtle, disappointed reaction is one of the best in the film. Calling Bev a damsel in distress, which is a complaint I've seen in a lot of discussions online, is not only inaccurate, it's a disservice to the strongest and most developed character in the film. Pennywise takes Bev out of its own fear of the fearless.
posted by guiseroom at 3:19 PM on September 11 [12 favorites]


I think the scariest part was that far away look Pennywise had when he was talking with Georgie. His face just goes blank, as if the real entity behind the clown face is trying to figure out what approach to take with cajoling this little boy to his death....ugh, chills!
posted by cazoo at 12:59 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Watched it last night and for the most part I really enjoyed it. The kids were all well cast.

In particular I enjoyed the relationship between Bev and Ben. Their New Kids on the Block connection was heart-warming.

That opening sequence with Pennywise and Georgie stands out. Even with the trailers showing as much as they did of that particular sequence, it still worked.

I was on the edge of my seat and I had goosebumps the entire way. When poor Georgie reached in...I was doing that think where I had my fingers in my face and I'm peaking through. Yup. If I were at home, I'd have had a pillow in front of me.

One area that the film sort of let slip away was the way in which the adults purposely avoid confronting the terror that is Derry. We had a few slight nods to this, but the 1990 television mini-series really brought that element of the novel to the forefront.

That being said, I realize certain things are going to be condensed, changed, and/or removed entirely from this film. This particular adaptation was very much focused on the children and their connection with one another.

I agree with guiseroom that Beverly was clearly the strongest and this is why she was chosen. She's my favourite character in the book and in this film, Sophia Lillis was phenomenal. Whenever she was on screen, she just draws your attention.

Final Thoughts and Observations:
• Ben's sequence in the library was the sequence (aside from the opening Georgie scene) that had me most terrified. Those slightly burnt eggs. *shivers*
• I want Beverly's fashion-sense. I'm a 36 year old man and I want that wardrobe. Give that costume-designer an award. He/she nailed it.
• Will be interesting to see if the more cosmic Macroverse/“dead-lights” parts of the story make an appearance in Chapter II, they were only briefly referenced/nodded towards.
• Why does every childhood bully in all of film have a mullet?!?
• The film was weird, it was both rushed and yet a little bit too long. A weird feeling. But overall I loved it.
• “...and now I'm going to have to kill this fucking clown.” - best line in the entire film, our theatre cheered.
• That final sequence where they're each taking their turns beating the shit out of Pennywise...had me fist-pumping!!
posted by Fizz at 7:59 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


I want Beverly's fashion-sense. I'm a 36 year old man and I want that wardrobe. Give that costume-designer an award. He/she nailed it.

Janie Bryant is the costume designer for IT, and she was the brilliant costume designer on Mad Men. She's the first costume designer whose name makes me excited when I see it in the credits.

I'm not a horror fan (too scared most of the time), but I really wanted to see this. I'm so glad I did, and that I saw it in a full theater. It was intense and fun and no nightmares after.
posted by gladly at 9:30 AM on September 12 [5 favorites]


That movie was great!

My only complaint is that over two hours is a long damn time for a horror movie. There's this great almost-ending when they emerge mostly triumphant from the house....and then there's another ~45 minutes to the real ending. And the real ending was good, mind you! But, still, long.
posted by graventy at 11:39 AM on September 12


I take your point about what the context says about Bev and her strength. I'm finding I can't offer further support for my gut feeling about the "damsel" thing without being more critical than the movie deserves. Maybe I'll watch it again with that in mind, when it's out streaming. I bet it holds up pretty well to multiple viewings.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:56 AM on September 12


I hated the damsel shit they pulled with Bev as well. I get that the rationale was that she was the strongest, but to me that doesn't mitigate that she was A. kidnapped, giving B. the boys the motivation to rescue her. You can put a twist on a classic trope but you're still executing a classic trope. I'm tired of this trope. It's been done to death. Making the girl the "strong one" who gets damseled doesn't really do anything for me personally, especially since they didn't even have the excuse of it being in the book.

Also annoyed with how Mike was handled. I want to like this movie but just tired to death of the female and minority characters being minimized or having their storylines reduced in favor of more white boy heroics.
posted by supercrayon at 5:01 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I absolutely loved this. Right up there with the best King adaptations of all time. So glad I went to see it in the theater.

surprised by how many people in the audience made surprised/excited noises when it ended with the 'Chapter One' subtitle... like... I guess nobody read the book?

I’ve read the book probably a dozen times, but I tried to go into this without reading anything about the movie or even watching the trailers, and I had heard nothing about it being Chapter 1. I assumed pretty early on that they were just going to focus on the kids' story and ditch the adults (not a bad way to do it, honestly), so when they did the blood ritual and talked about coming back, and ended with the Chapter 1 graphic, I gasped too. So excited for Chapter 2 already.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:58 PM on September 16


Also annoyed with how Mike was handled.

Giving Mike's storyline to one of the white boys and eliminating the racism part of it was mystifying and inexcusable.
posted by Mavri at 10:46 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


I saw It opening night, and was surprised by how many people in the audience made surprised/excited noises when it ended with the 'Chapter One' subtitle... like... I guess nobody read the book? Or even saw the 1990 miniseries?

I think that people are used to movies taking extreme liberties with books. I mean, look at what happened to The Dark Tower. (Speaking of which, I am sincerely hoping that the success of this movie will lead to a redo on a Dark Tower adaptation, which should be feasible given that the movie was itself implied to be a sequel to the book series, although I'd rather that they brought Elba and McConaughey back if they can manage it.) I'm also excited about Chapter 2 and want to see what they do with the town; King has a good sense for what can change in a town over time, not only what's not as good as it used to be but also what's better.

Also, I wasn't so bothered by the decrepit old house being there because that's kind of a trope of King's; besides this house, there's also the Marsten House in 'Salem's Lot and the house in Brooklyn that Jake uses to cross over to Mid-World in the Dark Tower series. I think that there's some sort of curse on these types of houses that prevents people from messing with them and tearing them down, or even paying much attention to them... except for their victims, heh heh heh.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:32 PM on September 17


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