The small town of Derry, Maine is cursed. Every thirty or so years the "eater of worlds and children" (the best job title that should be on a business card) Pennywise (Tim Curry) comes up and scares children to make them appetizing enough to eat. Pennywise can turn up as your worst nightmare to scare you and adults don't see him because they don't believe in him. (try not to think too hard about that one, trust me) The miniseries follows a group of seven local kids who are taunted by Pennywise but are able to fend him off by not giving into their fear. They decide to destroy him once and for all by using a sling shot, because sure. The film intercuts this timeline with the present with the kids, now adults, thirty years on. The murders have started again and it's up to them to put an end to Pennywise once and for all, because hitting a demon clown on the side of the head with a silver earring may not have been the killing blow.
I think It plays into all the sentimental trappings of Stephen King that I'm not a fan of: children in peril, idyllic childhoods fracture by broken parents, seemingly unbeatable evil beaten simply, one of the characters being a horror fiction writer. I love King's set ups, but the execution not so much. In It there is a lot of talking about each character's problems, I do think this is the problem of the miniseries format where the audience may be coming in and out so objectives and motivations need to be reestablished constantly which requires a lot of talking, emoting and Acting. (yes, with a capital A) The characterizations are also sloppy. For characters you've got The One That Stutters, The Fat One, The One Always Doing Irritating Impressions, The Girl, The Asthmatic etc. When their fears are triggered their handicaps become more pronounced. It's boring and frankly irritating.
|From left to right: Sicky, Stutter, "Funny", Ethnic, Worried, Fat and Girl.|
Perhaps it's just me, but I found Pennywise pretty funny. He, sorry, It pops up in the most random places which is fucking hilarious. Like this:
Frankly, it's hard for me to imagine sillier images.
While Tim Curry is great as the demented clown, the script and direction just don't facilitate him being scary. He just kind of pops up and taunts you for a while. And not about the messed up things in your life, about the most mundane things possible. Like your glasses, or that you're a girl. I don't understand why he doesn't just kill these kids. I know he says they taste better scared but there are several scenes where he just shows up and eats a kid. I guess these ones are special... because ... I don't know. They're sad?
I haven't read the book but I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't have to read a book to enjoy an adaptation of it. I love the premise of It, but it all falls apart pretty quickly. For all the set-up and energy involved in the three hours of screen time, it all gets resolved a little too quickly. I like that they tried to keep Pennywise to the shadows of the series, but they should have kept him way more mysterious in my mind.
Between the repetition, silly scares and shoddy special effects It never really takes off to become anything more than a cheap scares and adults complaining about their emotional problems. Like an artistic interpretation of a Dr. Phil episode.