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COURTESY OF NEW LINE CINEMA

September 14, 2017

Do They Really Float Down Here?

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“You’ll float too! You’ll float too!” cried Georgie in the latest trailer for It, directed by Andrés Muschietti. I remember watching it and having high hopes for this movie.

The film is based off of one of Stephen King’s most famous novels, the only prior adaptation was a 1990 miniseries with Tim Curry as a crazy clown. And, if Tim Curry as a dancing clown doesn’t automatically scream horror, I don’t know what does. But, seriously, he was the funniest part about that movie.

This interpretation seemed like it was going to be much more intense, which is something I was looking for from an adaptation of my favorite Stephen King novel.

For those of you who don’t aren’t familiar with It, the story follows seven outsiders, in what they call they Losers Club, who survive a monster called “It” that manifests mostly as a killer clown.

You can tell within the first few minutes that this film is going to look and sound gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful to behold, and the soundtrack is surprisingly epic. There is one scene where one of the kids, Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), is running away from the bullies up a river, and it’s a drone shot with this intense music playing. I turned to one of my friends and said, “This is epic.” Also, the acting from everyone is really on point.

Then, we’re introduced to Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård). Now, there’s nothing wrong with a creepy clown, but I don’t find them particularly intimidating. Either way, why this kid is listening to a creepy clown in the drainage pipe instead of running is beyond me. Still, the clown isn’t very scary. When It attacks, the head gets closer as the rest of the body shakes in fake-looking, CGI fashion. Also, the way It shakes its head as it attacks is rather funny. The most ridiculous scene is towards the very end when Pennywise the dancing clown actually dances. It’s this intense jig, and Pennywise’s face stays in the same position as the rest if its body shakes. Despite all of this, It still has its creepy moments such as when all you can see are its glowing eyes (called the deadlights). And, Pennywise’s head can roll back into a row of teeth and then reveal the deadlights.

The amount of gore throughout the film was very mixed. It was rather gory in the first part of the film yet was rather lacking in the second half. This change occurs once the Losers Club cleans up the blood from Beverly’s (Sophia Lillis) bathroom. There is still impaling and broken body parts, but the blood is very minimal. And, now I think it is finally time to nerd out. I mean, my bike’s name is Silver because of this book.

Despite Pennywise being a bit ridiculous, I was finally happy that a serious version of this story was created. And, by focusing only on the kids, the film didn’t feel so crammed and pressed for time. However, there were still a lot of story lines to go over in this two hour period. There was each of the kids in the Losers Club, their home lives, the clown and the bullies. Beverly was also given a far creepier home life, that I do not remember from the book.

Now, in this adaptation, there were some choices that did and did not benefit the film. First of all, we see more adults witnessing the children in danger and ignoring it. This will be important later when the Losers Club figures out from this that the entire town is in on the killings. Another is that there are more bullies than just Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). And, we actually get to see his home life and figure out why he is the way he is. Henry’s switch to listening to Pennywise, a nod to The Tommyknockers, is actually made in this film instead of 27 years later, as in the book. It gives it more of a sense of urgency.

The ending also was very different, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. I won’t give too much away, but let’s say that people actually float in this movie! They really do float down here! In the book, it was really just saying the dead float in the water. And, the ending here was definitely more cinematic since the ending to the kid’s timeline was never meant to be the end of the story. So, it had to be developed more for the movie. And, it delivers!

Some of the worse deviations from the book included stereotypical Hollywood moments. First of all, the group breaking up before coming back together cliché was really unnecessary — just was really there to break up the action a bit. I know there needed to be a sense of urgency, but did we really have to go the damsel in distress route? It’s a group made up of six guys and one girl, and Beverly is the one who gets taken by the clown. And, don’t worry. There’s a reason why Pennywise doesn’t kill her. Also, why did the kids keep splitting up and doing things you’d see in a typical horror film? There was even one scene where one kid, Ritchie (Finn Wolfhard), goes to open a coffin, and someone in the back yells “Don’t open it, man!”

The most important thing to me about the book It wasn’t the killer clown but the relationship between the characters and how they worked off of each other. And, I do believe that they really got that down solid. It was a group of kids whose chemistry worked and you want to hang out with, if you were that age again. Let me dream! There are a few scenes that could be a bit shorter, as this is still a horror film and not as much a drama. Although it is good to build character, it would have been nice to see more of a sense of urgency.

So, how does it hold up? Incredibly well. It stays true to the book while also adding in new, interesting elements while changing others for the better. I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5 adventurous hats for a very entertaining adaptation, despite silly Pennywise and Hollywood moments. And, now I can’t wait until 2019 for the sequel involving the adults. This film has definitely raised my expectations. And, wait. Is that a balloon behind you?

 

Trip Hastings is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at gh357@cornell.edu.