And the hilarious thing is, it's a bad movie.
Yeah, I heard a lot of good reviews. People were saying good things about it, audiences and critics alike. But I laughed at all of the serious moments while I was in the movie.
I'm not complaining that it's bad, either. I sincerely had a good time. And ultimately, I'm actually rather happy that it made so much money on such a small budget. When you're essentially an indie film and you're out-grossing some of the biggest names in comic books, that's power to you. Stick it to the establishment!
But anyway, allow me to explain what's bad about it, and why I had such a fun time because of it, or should I say, because of It:
This is one of those movies that you could tell was based off of a Stephen King novel, even if you had never heard of It before. It contains just about every King cliche out there. There were times when this movie felt as disjointed as The Room, when people would do random things to fill up the runtime. I suppose it's supposed to have a bit of a Stand By Me feel to it, but it kind of ruins the pacing it has as a horror film. And it's awkwardly paced in general. And there's basically no plot for the first half of the film. And even when you do get to the main plot, there's some strange editing. And when I mean strange editing, some of the tense scenes will end and you will cut to the main characters in another, safer situation. I'm like, "wait, that scene resolved itself at that moment? I had no idea that they were safe yet."
More cliches: every one of the Stand By Me kids (they're technically called the Losers Club) has abusive parents. With some of them, it's only implied, or you only see it in one scene, but with others, there's some uncomfortable screen time to be had. How is it that every single parent in this town is inhumanly awful? The bullies are just as bad, if not worse. I've seen cliche bullies before, but these guys take the cake. They will literally carve their names into the flesh of fat people, and they bully just about everyone. They'll even shoot at people's cats. It gets to the point that they will even murder. These guys are pretty messed up. Hands down, these are the most over-the-top bullies ever. And on top of it all, the main bully has to offend me with his awful late-80's mullet. That was painful to look at.
Thank heavens that the Losers are somewhat decent people! They're so decent that they're . . . honestly, kind of annoying, too. And each person is bascially only a walking quirk. And then there's the kid played by Finn Wolfhard, from Stranger Things. I don't even know what his quirk was. As far as I can tell, he was supposed to be more obnoxious than the rest of them, but as far as I was concerned, his quirk was that he reminded people of how Stranger Things was much better and therefore the directors had to hide him behind a giant pair of glasses that never came off. So hopefully people wouldn't notice that he's basically Mike Wheeler.
Well, one character was significantly improved. Beverly. She didn't do a certain thing in this movie that she did in the book. Ahem. Stephen King has a weird mind.
So yeah, the first half of the movie is just random encounters with the clown which don't really add up to anything. And the clown, which has all the powers of shape-shifting in the world, doesn't actually use any of them to kill the main characters. He's a very lousy serial killer. These scenes hardly have any buildup that would otherwise make them eerie. They're not directed like actual horror scenes. They actually come off more as gimmicks. And then the scenes end abruptly. And the characters who nearly got killed in these scenes? They go on living as normal for the first half of the film. One of them, this Jewish kid (that's literally his only trait as far as I can tell), nearly gets eaten by It, and I assumed that he had until in a later scene when he eventually actually talked about it. It turns out that this similarly-looking person actually was the Jewish kid this whole time, only he had lost his yarmulke and I didn't recognize him. Seriously, how did he not have jitters in his next scene? And that goes for all of the other kids.
And this pattern continues. These kids are really good at going on as if nothing abnormal had happened. There's one moment like this before the climax, but my favorite scene where they got the mood all wrong was when the shapeshifter came from the drain with tentacles of hair and nearly choked the girl, and then sprayed blood all over the place. When the rest of the Losers Club visits to see this really disturbing thing, they randomly decide to have a moment where they all cheerily clean up all of the blood. Seriously, they see all of this blood and their first thought it "we need to clean up!" And it's not even depicted as ironic. It's like I was watching the wall-painting scene from Bridge to Terebithia.
Did this movie even know what tone it was going for?
I'll be the one to say it: the movie advertised itself as being loyal to the book, which is probably one of the reasons why it's successful, but I think that it would have been a lot better if it had removed half of the characters and kept the story between three individuals. Just have the Losers Club be a trio. You could develop the characters much better.
Anyway, the film is not without its merits. If you want something gimmicky, this is good. The clown can do some pretty interesting things, and with modern technology, they actually fully realize some of its more creative shapes. Its scenes don't necessarily come off as "scary" so much as "fun." Because they are fun. I think people ultimately went to the movie because they thought that the clown would have a special presence, which he does. He's well presented, and he's a solid concept, and he does leave an impression. If you think about the movie as a villain film, I'd say that it works. Actually, It is actually a better villain than most Marvel villains, come to think of it.
I still find it hilarious that this opened higher than Spider-Man: Homecoming.