Monday, October 31, 2016

Film Review: It (1990)

It (Review)
United States/1990
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review

"The story is fantastic, the focus on character is appreciated, and Tim Curry's performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown is superb."

In Derry, Maine, a group of kids known as "The Loser Club" encounter an evil demon who murders children. Thirty years later, the group is forced to return home to fight the demon again...

It, based on Stephen King's novel, is a horror epic, coming in with a huge three hour runtime. The first half frequently jumps from 1960 to 1990, but it is clean and efficient – no confusion. The first half of the film – or perhaps I should say, the first episode of the miniseries – introduces us to the characters in the present (1990) while taking us back to 1960, where each individual character has a personal encounter with the demon. The second half also tends to jump from past to present, but the changes are less frequent. During the second half, The Loser Club reunites to fight the demon and end the nightmare – once and for all. I love the first half of this film, but it starts to lose steam during the second half. It's not bad, but it's not as good. The ending is okay. It doesn't quite leave an impression, but it's not bad either.

It is a great movie, though. The plot, especially the concept, is unforgettable. It takes time to build its characters across two separate eras while continuously building up a seemingly omnipotent antagonist. The antagonist – It – is also memorable. The demon takes form of its prey's greatest fear, but it usually prances around as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. I think that's great, too. The film takes as much time building up its protagonists as it does creating its antagonist – and it pays off. In terms of horror, this isn't a jump-scare gallery a la Insidious. The film has a greater focus on visual horror while its undertones terrify on a more human level. I found most of its horror to be surreal and compelling.

The acting was great, too. I was pleasantly surprised by the child cast. Of course, Tim Curry delivers a stellar performances as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Curry is magnificently creepy without over-performing. I'd say Curry delivers one of the best performances in horror, really. The film looks and sounds great. I have to praise the effective editing, too. If it weren't for the meticulous editing, this could have been a mess. The film was written by Tommy Lee Wallace and Lawrence D. Cohen; Wallace also directs. The writing and direction are both strong. However, there are some pacing issues during the second half of the film. Perhaps it was the large runtime, but it just felt like it often slowed to a crawl – or if it was being unnecessarily stretched. I know the book is long, but I'm not sure if it was necessary for the film.

Overall, It is a great movie. The story is fantastic, the focus on character is appreciated, and Tim Curry's performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown is superb. There are some pacing issues during the latter half and I'm not a big fan of the ending, but it is a great movie. I don't think it's as good as The Shining, but it is one of the better Stephen King adaptations.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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