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Did You Float Too?

The Red & Black's resident film critic provides his take on the latest adaptation of Stephen King's IT.

The+screen+adaptation+of+Stephen+King%27s+novel%2C+IT%2C+premiered+this+weekend+to+massive+audiences.
The screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel, IT, premiered this weekend to massive audiences.

The screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel, IT, premiered this weekend to massive audiences.

Photo by Emily Cozza

Photo by Emily Cozza

The screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel, IT, premiered this weekend to massive audiences.

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For the past year I’ve been reading Stephen King’s novel, It. It’s taken such a ridiculous amount of time because of two things. One, it’s 1000 pages long, which almost justifies not being done with it, maybe an entire year is a bit much but whatever. Two, every time I go to read it, I end up putting it down because I remember that I could be doing anything else. So it’s been a year and I’m only like 300 pages in. Again, whatever. I’ve never seen the 1990 miniseries with Tim Curry, so I went in mostly blind to this new version and actually ended up really enjoying myself.

Oddly enough, despite how much I like the movie, I think the actual horror bits are handled really poorly. The movie is super reliant on cheap and predictable jump scares which are always accompanied by some sort of ear-shatteringly loud and obnoxious noise, which is the worst kind of horror. Hell, I don’t think my heart rate ever increased above its normal speed of three beats per minute throughout the entire runtime. So if the horror doesn’t work, then what does? Well, the acting for one.

Unlike most child performances, all the kids here are pretty good and surprisingly funny. The stand out is Finn Wolfhard, who you probably recognize from his starring role in Stranger Things. Speaking of Stranger Things, I’m really glad that It doesn’t fit into that whole wave of movies that play up 80s nostalgia because that’s what sells. Sure, there are posters for Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and a marquee advertising Tim Burton’s Batman, but it’s not like it has some neo-synth John Carpenter knockoff score, or constant reminders that “Hey, this is in the 80s! Remember all these things that you know?”

 Like I said earlier, the horror aspects are the weak link in this, but when it’s not focusing on clowns with unhinging jaws, It is actually a fair bit like like one of the very best King adaptations, Stand by Me. The best scenes aren’t when say, a painting comes to life, or when a headless corpse runs around a library basement, but rather when it’s just focused on the kids being kids, my favorite part being when they get into a rock throwing fight with a group of bullies. It’s more character driven than the majority of horror films, and most of the kids are entertaining, though understandably not as fleshed out as in the book. This got to the point where I was almost more interested in the characters than I was in the gruesome murder of children. Almost. Actually that’s something else that I liked, the violence hasn’t been too toned down to appeal to a wider audience. It’s not too often you see a seven year-old’s arm being ripped off in the first five minutes of a movie, something that I appreciate. It may have way too many cheap jump scares, a ridiculous final act, and it never quite lives up to the best Stephen King movies like The Shining, Carrie, and of course Maximum Overdrive; however,  it still remains a largely enjoyable film in spite of its glaring flaws.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Did You Float Too?”

  1. Sam on September 13th, 2017 8:58 pm

    I really want to see “It” now; this review had me dying! Can’t wait for the next one!

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Did You Float Too?