By Piece of Garbage Reviewer #456723423462485628934756891734625
It is both one of the best comedy films of 2017 if you’re a cynical asshole like me, and one of the worst films of 2017 in general, if you’re a cynical asshole like me.
It is not a film to be seen alone, and It is not a film to be seen in a theater with other cynical assholes. No, It is a film to see in theaters with members from the general populace. Average folk. Mainstream consumers. Normies. People who actually jump at jumpscares, get startled loud noises, and almost puke at imagery that’s disturbing but not too disturbing, ’cause god forbid you show an image that crosses the line that makes you lose millions at the box office.
I know it seems like it from how I’m describing it, but this movie isn’t horrible. It’s a competent enough film; it’s fine from a technical aspect, with good cinematography, good moments of special effects, and some moments of good sound design. The characters are fine, well acted, good at conveying emotions. However, there’s a balance of competency and unintentional hilarity, a yin and yang if you will. For every good moment, there’s a bad one. This film is chaotic neutral, and its beautiful flaw is quite simple:
It tries to make balloons scary.
From here on out there’s spoilers because I can’t talk about this movie without talking about very specific scenes. Also, I haven’t read the book because I don’t feel like it and I don’t need it to review a film. Film’s film, let it stand on its own.
Personal Context: I didn’t really want to see It, if I’m being honest. I’m not a big fan of horror, excluding a few films (The Shining, the original Evil Dead trilogy, and Cabin in the Woods, basically), and I thought that I would be more or less terrified if I went and saw it. However, I had two friends who wanted to see it and I tagged along because I need any excuse to do something with my life. In the theater were us, a family of seven with a small child, a few couples, and a few groups. Not that much activity, basically.
The Film: The film starts and it’s main kid one (I don’t know their names, blow me) and his little brother, and if you’ve seen the trailer, you already know that the little brother is fucked. It’s not a surprise that eventually he’s gonna get eaten or whatever, but the film uses suspenseful music during these parts where he’s alone in a basement getting wax for the paper boat in the trailer as if the clown in the basement, which I think is just rude. It wouldn’t be rude if the clown was there, and the film just murders the little brother in the first two minutes just to show off the people who watched the trailer and the cynics like me, but they didn’t so screw the filmmakers on this issue. Eventually the kid does go out and uses his paper boat during the rain, and he hits his head on the barricade or whatever and I laughed at that, and it’s basically beat for beat what happens in the trailer when he meets the clown in the sewer, except for some added dialogue and actually showing the kid get brutally almost killed.
I’m gonna give this film a lot of shit, but one thing I love about this film is that, for the most part, when it gets violent with these kids, they don’t hold back. When the little brother is attacked by the clown, the clown rips his fucking arm off and he’s bleeding profusely, and it’s mixing with the rain water and he just gets dragged down in the sewer. It doesn’t hold back where most films would with these kids. Kinda on topic, the kids curse all the fucking time and talk about sex and shit, and it’s beautiful.
Back to the film: After this scene, I kinda realized that if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen 90% of the film, minus some filler, violence, and cursing, and I was bored for the first 40 minutes. There were moments that I liked, mostly involving the kids hanging out. One of the members is a smartass and he’s golden in the film, saying dumb things and getting the laughs, and the dynamic between the group is good, but I didn’t really care for the emotional stuff. The film doesn’t delve into the emotional strain of the older brother too much, and it skips the whole year after he dies so we don’t have much time to establish a stronger connection between the characters. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s weak and it would’ve benefited from more time to develop it. It’s kinda just dropped on us and we have to make sense of it from so little.
Anyway, we get introduced to the characters of the main gang, and the black kid is the least developed of them all because of what I can only assume is systemic Hollywood racism, and it’s basic run of the mill stuff until about forty minutes in. I haven’t talked too much on the horror elements, because I can’t describe it more than I did at the beginning: Excluding a few moments, it’s basically jumpscares, loud noises, and somewhat disturbing imagery. These aren’t scary, they’re just startling, yet the film plays it off as and thinks that most of these are. And it’s in this one scene, forty minutes in, where I began to see this film not as a horror film, but an unintentional spoof of horror films.
The female gang member is in the bathroom and the sink drainage just starts to talk to her, and she talks back. For some reason, I don’t know why, in her head the best thing to do is get a tape measure and just put it into the sink as far as it can. At this point I start laughing a little bit, but not too much. She then reaches the bottom and begins to pull the tape back up, and at the four inches mark there’s blood is on it. Then this demonic hair in the sink shoots up and captures her, covering her and then, beautifully, blood just shoots up at full force, gallons a second, onto her face, body, and the whole bathroom for a solid minute. Thank god the movie was so loud, because I was laughing so hard at this scene straight out of Evil Dead that I would’ve been a disturbance to everyone in the theater. And this is just the beginning of a solid hour worth of laughs that’s just so great. The next scene is the big brother who goes into the little brother’s room and grabs a Lego turtle I assume the little brother made and two minutes later he drops it and the movie cuts to it hitting the floor as if it meant something, and I laughed for a good 20 seconds. Then, no joke, when the whole gang (minus the black kid. Again, systemic racism) sees the blood, knowing it’s in their imagination, goes into a cleanup montage that I know was intentionally funny, but in a horror film, it felt so out of place from the one off jokes that the kids were making. The smartass saying funny smartass shit made sense, the cleanup montage didn’t.
Those were subjectively funny things I found within the film, the rest of what I found funny revolves around the experience itself. For example, every goddamn time a red balloon would come into the frame people would gasp (one of my friends would say “oh god no”) and I laughed at that, and every time something happened that was in the trailer and people still freaked out about it, I laughed. Other than that, I know I would’ve been bored a majority of the time.
Plotwise, the clown fucks with them all, they all disband, then regroup when the chick gets taken, and they go save her, and it’s supposed to be heroic at the end. It is in the literal sense, but with how disconnected I felt with the characters, the most I could think about it was “okay cool, sure.” They win the battle, and they all leave and that’s the end.
Afterword: I mentioned in the beginning this idea of yin and yang, and the reason why is because I think the reason I was not thrilled for it was because of how evenly it’s spread between good and bad. I like the characters and they’re well acted, but I don’t care for them because of a relatively poor emotional connection. I like some of the special effects and some of the camerawork, but some effects look (I guess purposefully?) goofy and some shots are lackluster and bland. The kids cursed but they also shit out exposition. It’s so split down the middle that half of the film I was laughing my ass off and the other half I was waiting for it to end. The film had to be either better or even worse for me to care more for it, but it’s just middle. It’s meant for people in the middle of the bell curve: People who like a challenge but only if it’s easy to complete, and It is an easy challenge. It’s only good for the rest of us if you walk in with very low expectations and are in a mindset to deconstruct it, and perhaps laugh at its absurdity at a cost of waiting for it to end at the beginning and the end.
It’s chaotic, and it’s neutral.