Preliminary Thoughts: Stephen King’s It

The big day has finally arrived. Today I will spend at my desk working diligently and tonight I will be attending a midnight showing of the new It adaptation. Tomorrow you can check back to read my full-length review, but today I will be addressing my thoughts going into the film.

 

2017 IT

 

Note: I haven’t even seen the movie yet, so this piece will be 100% spoiler-free – though I will be addressing some concerns that I have, and I respect your decision not to read if you’d rather go into this movie blindly.

I like not knowing what I’m getting myself into when I go into a theater, so I’ve been avoiding the early reviews for this film. That being said, I haven’t been able to entirely shield myself from sneaking some peaks at a couple comments and maybe seeing the rotten tomato score. Mostly what I’ll be addressing here however is the trailers, rumors I’ve heard, and mostly things that have me concerned going in.

Let’s start with trailers:

The first official trailer for this film made quite a splash in the horror community, as I’m sure you’ll all remember. I have no trouble seeing the appeal, and found myself instantly wanting to believe that this was going to be a good movie. The first viewing left me hopeful. The child actors look quite talented, the setting appears to be tastefully modernized and the aesthetic is a lot more chilling than anything the miniseries had to offer. The eerie chant of “you’ll float too” didn’t fail to make an impact, either.

I noticed similar things about the two trailers that followed, and I’m trying to take hope in the fact that they seem to be aimed at appealing more to Stephen King fans than to blind audiences. That’s something that suggests a more faithful adaptation and paired with the more serious tone, everything is pointing to this being decent, right?

I’m not so sure.

I don’t want to always play the pessimist, but I do have a lot of concerns about the quality of this movie. A faithful adaptation sounds like a good thing on paper, but It was never my favorite Stephen King book. While I’m sure the scenes I had the most problems with on paper are scenes that no one would attempt adapting film, concern started creeping in when rumors started up about how close this sticks to the book. I think we’re all hoping it doesn’t stay too close to the source material for a wide variety of reasons.

It’s the same situation with the tone of the movie. A more serious, creepier movie sounds like a good thing, but that’s also pretty high risk. Serious horror movies are some of the best, but horror movies that try to take themselves seriously and fail tend to be the worst. A lot of what I loved about the miniseries was that it had a lot of humor, they took a lot of big risks, and I never got the impression they were trying too hard to scare me. I think if the 2017 film misses its mark even a little, it’s going to look like they were trying way too hard and lower the quality of the experience.

Speaking of what is and is not scary, let’s talk about the new Pennywise. He definitely fits the books description much better than the Tim Curry version with the silvery suit, metallic eyes, and orange tufts of hair. He also looks much more demonic, but I’m not convinced that’s any scarier. I think it’s almost more frightening to have a design where he could almost pass for a normal clown. Not only does it make him more versatile and enigmatic as a villain, but it allows the coulrophobia lingering in the audience to come out more naturally. Looking at the picture I used for the top of this article, I don’t feel scared as much as…unimpressed.

As a final note I want to talk about the Rotten Tomatoes score. Last night it was at 96% which, I have to be honest, had me concerned. I automatically distrust anything that Rotten Tomatoes ranks higher than Cabin in the Woods – which I’m still appalled only got a 92%. Saying that a movie is better than that seems like setting it up for an intentional failure, and paranoid though this may sound, I’ve been disappointed in a lot of the horror movies to rank that high.

As I’m writing this out however, I see that the score has dropped to 90% and in a strange way that has restored some of my faith in the movie. It seems a lot more obtainable, realistic, and it’s helping me to believe that there is hope I’ll be enjoying this experience for something other than theater nachos.

In any case, we’ll find out soon enough. I’m looking forward to letting you guys know what I thought and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for my verdict.

 

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