Review: Stephen Kings ‘It’ plays Goonies with horror flick
Pennywise will rip into you with his piranha type fangs, do a little jig, then bring your worst nightmare to your door; don’t let your guard down kids, this clown won’t stop until he’s fed. But when you slash horror with comedy, does the fear of ‘It’ float away or are you still able to jump out of your skin?
It sounds ridiculous, but if King and Spielberg had a film baby this is pretty much what It would look like, I swear I walked in on a rip off 80’s movie, where before Molly Ringwald herself could say a word, a clown got staked in the head.
What I hear you say, what? Indeed. So let’s jump right into this strange mash-up of a horror, and see if we can make sense of it all. The film starts with a young boy called George running after a paper boat made by his best, best friend and brother, which slips out of his reach and into a gutter, but guess who’s there to catch it? Yep, none other than a buck tooth, dribbling Pennywise – who would be later labelled It by some nerdy kids, from where it’s set in Derry, Maine.
The encounter by the bulbous chalk headed clown played by Bill Skarsgard is to be one of many, shapeshifting and hovering in the dark, waiting to feed off an innocent child’s fear, by frightening the bejesus out them with their own worst nightmare. This would happen every 27 years, so why was it different this time?
Well, when the bullied, outsider Derry kids, are faced with what they first believe to be hallucinations, they decide to take the relentless clown on, and with their formulaic Spice boy type personalities. Bill the brave, Ben the podgy kid- resembling a cute and well-read James Corden, traumatised Mike, neurotic Eddie, average Stanley, wisecracking Richie, and phew, let’s not forget stake stabber, and amber crush Beverly Marsh. It’s literally like watching The Goonies only there’s a lot more kids, with a lot more blood, and a loony-toon clown popping up when you least expect it.
The remake of a remake was always going to be hard for director Andy Muschietti, to adapt this well-known Stephen King novel, he knows he’s dealing with too much of a sophisticated crowd to do things the generic way. So by reigning the boys in -especially bad mouthed Richie- he adds a dose of light relief, kind of saying ‘We get that you, get it’ but here’s something else, humour. But the thing is, if you can’t replicate or better the sentiment of Wes Cravens 90’s classic film ‘Scream’, the first one- forget about the sequels- with spoils of laughter and unadulterated self-aware punchiness, then don’t try at all.
Because that something else, only proceeds to forfeit the horror, the psychological thrill if you like; and for a person who’s genuinely scared of their own shadow, I not only expected -but in a way hoped to be squirming deep down in my seat, deliciously frightened out of my wits, and shaking at the prospect of It whispering in my ear ‘Are you ready to float?’
But instead I heard laughter in the auditorium at how silly it was, at how utterly unconvincing the scenes were becoming, and unravelling, and even before the credits rolled I headed for the door. O.k, that maybe a little unjust- I mean, it wasn’t as if the film didn’t make me jump, but let’s be honest I was never going to get high enough to float either, so what would be the point.
Here’s a very funny clip of Tim Curry talking about the boy [George] he scared, as the infamous clown in the 90’s t.v adaptation of the novel It.