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I Don't Recommend It

(A Review of It)
(Contains Spoilers)

    It’s the movie of the month. The movie of the season. Of the year. Maybe It’s even the movie of a lifetime. Well, not my lifetime. It isn’t even the movie of my week. Here’s why.

    Last Sunday I sat down in an almost perfectly comfortable chair (Yes, I am aware that approaching perfection is approaching infinity.), eating almost perfectly delicious popcorn, and waiting for It to begin. After appreciating the artsy first shot - a closeup of turning pages, the next decision to appreciate was the music. It was very atmospheric - the type of piano and violin soundtrack that transports you Alan Turing’s 1936 Turing Machine. But not to a horror film.

    An artsily filmed chase after Georgie’s paper boat made me almost wish I was watching the type of movie one would expect from. I’m not here to bash It for being a horror movie; I knew what I was getting into. But when Pennywise the clown appeared in the storm drain, quickly changed from pseudo-charming to menacing, bit off the kid’s arm, and dragged him in, I was underwhelmed. I was expecting a horror movie, but not one that shows the viewer the main villain, and most of the possible extent of their evilness in the first scene of the movie. I want mystery. I’m not easily scared by movies. (Although I don’t feel a need to be, I still wasn’t impressed.) It takes a lot of suspenseful buildup to convince me I even care about the outcome of a supposedly scary story, let alone be scared by it. And It just didn’t have it.

    It’s Music

    The music didn’t help either. As I mentioned before, the music started out unfitting of a horror movie. It soon changed to a type of soundtrack I’d expected - kind of. With canned vocals and “scary” electronic noises that follow the pattern of the action, the music was finally reminiscent of a horror movie. But in my opinion, it was too much. As soon as the music’s reaction is bigger than my own, I start to lose interest. Of course, everyone's reaction to a movie is different, and what I was thinking in that moment was that the action should be able to speak for itself. Soundtracks are a great invention, and can add a lot of atmosphere to a scene. However, music dramatic enough to make the stakes seem as high as the apocalypse, that nonstop accompanies the nonstop action, isn’t the atmosphere I want from a movie about a scary clown. Watch Pennywise’s first appearance, see what you think.

    It’s Logic

    It also lacked in another, in my opinion crucial, element: reasoning. I’m not saying that a movie has to be realistic for me to like it. Realistic according to the average human being in 2017 is only important for conversations, in my opinion. I’m not saying that the plot can’t be complex, with unexpected twists and turns, either, or that everything that happens must be explained. I just want to know that there is an explanation. So when Pennywise turns into blood that spews out of Beverly’s sink, or attacks people with varying levels of intention and entirely different methods each time, I want to at least know that there is a reason why this happens, and a way. Getting this explanation of the movie’s events, I’m less concerned with. Inferring that Dauberman, Fukunaga, and Palmer wouldn’t have time to explain their reasoning in the rest of the movie makes me think they couldn’t if I asked - it isn’t very mysterious. It doesn’t inspire me to make up my own explanation of the plot, either, if I have reason to believe there was never one to begin with. Even if there wasn’t an explanation to begin with, I want it to seem like there was.

    It’s Characters

    Where do I start? How about with the fact that I think the acting of all of the kids was phenomenal. I also appreciate the characters themselves - the group of “losers”, brought together by that label, has great potential. So do Henry Bauer and his gang of over-the-top bullies. Everyone has their own special fear that Pennywise feeds off of by shape-shifting into it. Fear is central to the plot, and its importance is slowly revealed to the audience. It’s not a new idea, but I like it. What I don’t like is that it was squeezed into a 2hr. 15min. movie. Nine characters’ fears are addressed. You can imagine that this doesn’t leave a lot of room for each character to prove that they’re any more than a trope. Bringing it back to mystery, the way the plot is structured around the characters’ fears - adding their Pennywise encounters into the movie at odd angles - doesn’t leave much room for mystery, either.

    The audience already knows what Pennywise is, for the most part. And at the end, they realize they also knew who he was the whole time - just a clown. He isn’t secretly Henry's abusive dad, or Eddie’s neurotic, extremely overprotective mom, trying to give her son a reason not to go exploring. That’s another point. Often, I am more interested in villain characters who function more like human beings (or are them) - characters with motives and situations that lead them to have more complicated relationships with other characters than shapeshifting into their worst fear and eating them. I’m not opposed to nonhuman entities as villains - in fact, many of the stories I like, and write, have them. However, the way Pennywise was presented within the relatively short time of the movie, was underwhelming. I would’ve liked to see Henry’s descent into murderous rage fleshed out more fully, or one of the other options I mentioned. In the end, I don’t recommend it.
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