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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 20, 2017

It Movie Review: Another Boring Interpretation Of A Stephen King Book That Drags For An Interminable Two Hours And 15 Minutes And Offers No Really Good Scares

AFTER THE dissapointing film version of “The Dark Tower”, now comes another boring interpretation of a Stephen King book, “It” (not informational technology). Move over, Ronald McDonald, the clown in “It”, Pennywise, now eclipses you as a macabre screen presence who eat the arms of little children right in the opening sequence.

“It” was published in 1986, a very thick book of more than 1,000 pages, and was first made into a mini series on TV in 1990. This is the first big screen version. We just want to take note here that the best films of King is based on his non-horror works, like “The Green Mile”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Stand By Me”. The horror novels that also did well on screen are “Carrie” by Brian de Palma and “The Shining” by Stanley Kubrick.

“It” is a current big hit in the States so no doubt there will be a sequel. It’s dreadfully directed by Andy Muschietti, who did the awful and forgettable horror flick, “Mama” (2013). The story is set in the late 80s in the beautiful small town of Derry, Maine, which looks so idyllic with its small river with a covered wooden bridge ala-Madison County, old historic edifices and tree-lined streets.

Every 27 years, children go missing in this quaint town and it’s caused by Pennywise who preys on little kids. Actually, there are more scary things in the town, including a pedophile dad who abuses his daughter, a super fat protective mother who smothers her son, plus repulsive mean girls who dump garbage on the girl they envy while she’s inside the toilet and trigger-happy and knife-wielding bullies in school who beat up their overweight classmates and those afflicted with asthma and stuttering.

A terrorized child can cry for help but no one will come to his aid. So when Pennywise starts making his presence felt, you can actually forget him as he’s actually anti-climactic as there are much worse real people in Derry than him. You’d start to wonder how anyone can get out of this hellhole alive.
The brave group of plucky kids, called losers by the bullies, who try to conquer their fears and defy Pennywise are all archetypes. First is the stutterer, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher, who’s so good in “Midnight Special”) whose younger brother was the first victim of the clown hiding under the sewer.

Then there’s the loner fat boy Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the joker Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the asthmathic kid Eddie (Jak Grazer), the shy Jewish boy Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) and the token black boy Mike (Chosen Jacobs). The only girl is the tomboyish Beverly (Sophia Lillis) who serves as the lone leading lady but with an unjustified reputation as a teenage vamp.

In all fairness to this young cast, they can all act pretty convincingly, especially the girl who sizzles as a young spitfire. It is the movie itself that is marred with a lack of narrative cohesion. It offers no really good scares (unlike “Annabelle: Creation” where the audience is screaming out loud from start to finish) and the worst thing, for us, is that you don’t root for the kids as they do a lot of very stupid things.

You root for the clown instead. And the movie drags interminably for more than two boring hours, a sorry combination of very bad and stupid ideas that mostly do not work, just like Muschietti’s “Mama”.

The sociopathic leader of the bullies, Henry (Nicholas Hamilton), is incredibly ruthless in his sadistic tendencies. In torturing the fat boy, he carves his initials on the boy’s fat belly with a knife. Later, he uses the knife to kill his own policeman dad. Actually, he’s much more scary than the clown who chases kids, change shapes to impersonate other entities, open his mouth wide like a python to reveal multiple fangs, but seems to feel so reluctant in actually killing kids when he already have all the freaking chances to do so.

Beverly also gets to kill her own abusive father. So that makes it two cases of parricides. The level of brutality is really quite off-putting, so we’re not surprised that it got a rating of R-13 because of all the violence. It’s ironic that even the kids who starred in “It” cannot watch their own movie. You’d really wonder: who is the target audience for this movie?