23 May 2010
It is an interesting movie. On the one hand, the horror scenes are so obvious, and the cast so... well... "TV," that it doesn't get much of a rise out of me. The photography is flat, either soft walls of white light or that sharp directional full-spectrum of filters and gels that screams amateur video or 90s TV show. Neither mode suits the mood just right, and it's a shame. Because despite all of this, the story is really good, and the actors aren't so much bad as they are broad, with silly dialogue and a lot of "As You Know, Bob" conversations. (Oh, and that pet peeve of mine I just recently went on about, the Flinch-From-the-Force-of-the-Flashback trope, mixed here with the I-Have-No-Memory-Of-That-Until-It's-Plot-Specific-For-Me-To-Do-So trope.) But otherwise...
Part one is the kids' story, and the flashforwards to the adult versions just exists to enrich and bridge gaps. Part two we flipflop, and it's the adults' story, with occasional flashbacks to childhood used to enrich or bridge gaps in the other direction. It's all nicely symmetrical. And Tim Curry's Pennywise is as charismatic and evil as you want him to be: one part psycho Joker, one part Freddy Krueger, one part Beetlejuice. The thing of it is, with the broadness of the storytelling and acting (and remember, this was a made-for-TV movie in 1990, on ABC; by those standards this really is a fucking amazing piece of work, worthy of its reputation), with the themes of "fear is contagious, but it's only in your mind" (placebos!) and "together we are stronger than any of us apart" and "the power of faith/belief is our weakness and our strength," well, It ends up feeling like the target age group is the ten- to twelve-year-olds, not the adults. It's a scary movie for kids, and to that it's legitimately one of the darkest, actually frightening movies for kids I can think of. But as an adult, it's all a little easy.
And honestly? Fighting the spider as the climax, and beating it because Bev took a third shot and then everybody kicked it in the tummy? That was a shitty ending. You want to see Pennywise win or lose. You don't want to see a hard plastic monster that looks like a He-Man toy shot on a macro lens lying on its side.
It's good. It's good, I should say. But It's not mind-blowing. And the childhood story is exactly the kind of broad, easy stuff that I was just praising Small Change and I'm Not Scared for NOT being. But it's -- sorry sorry, It's -- still a pretty damn good film.