IT, the 2017 remake of the 1990 TV movie based on the 1986 Stephen King novel is an occasionally bloody though largely bloodless horror film packed with stretches of tedium intercalated with ineffective and unimaginative jump scares.
IT follows The Losers, a group of social pariahs consisting of nerds, dorks, dweebs, and one black kid, because the town of Derry is racist. The racist town of Derry is beset by a string of child disappearances. When one member’s younger brother goes missing, he drags along the rest of the Losers in his obsessive search to find him. And there’s an evil clown.
The Losers are portrayed by some child actors, one of whom appeared in Netflix’s Stranger Things, which was itself influenced by IT. The kids provide good performances. They are all mildly annoying just like real children! To be fair Mike is not annoying, but he does almost absolutely nothing in the movie. There is also a love triangle for fans of bland interpersonal drama.
But we’re not here for the kids, the pangs of youth, the challenges of growing up, or the injustices children face at the hands of adults. No, obviously we’ve come for Pennywise, the scary clown who is scary because scary clowns are scary. And he’ll do loads of scary things. He’ll jump out and scream! Music will play to let us know that we are supposed to be scared. He’ll also run at the camera, in one of several forms, all but the clown rendered in laughishly cartoonish CG which strips their already tepid appearances of anything even slightly related to fear. But don’t worry, they’ll jump at the camera real quick, and a musical sting will play, so that we in the theater can all jump out of our seats and turn to our dates and say, “Oh, that was scary wasn’t it dear? Do you want to go to LongHorn Steakhouse after the movie and we can have a steak? I’ll have mine well done and I’d like my baked potato without any fixings, just the butter please.”
The over-reliance on music belies that the director, Andy Muschietti, had nothing in his wheelhouse for creating tension or dread, so he keeps going back to the same three metal scraping noises to communicate feeling in the least effective, least interesting way possible.
Andrei Tarkovsky, renowned director of Stalker and Solaris, amongst many others, once said something along the lines of if a movie is completely thematically cohesive it will not need background music, as mood and tone will be conveyed through the language of film. I could not help but remember this after Pennywise had jumped at the camera for the 23rd time, screaming and shaking his head, the background musical stings blaring away.