It (2017)

Let’s all just agree clowns will forever be scary as shit…

A group of bullied kids band together when a shape shifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children in their small town of Derry, Maine.

The Gods have heard our prays and delivered a GOOD Stephen King adaptation! After many years of waiting, going through directors changing, actors changing, IT has finally hit the big screen and I could not get enough of this movie, in the span of three days I’ve already seen it twice!

It is fucking crazy that this is Andy Muschietti’s second feature film, the first being the unfairly underappreciated Mama (2013), and now he has delivered a knockout! With a mixture of The Goonies meets Stand By Me, Muschietti brings a coming of age story with visual flair and a perfect blend of humour and horror.

Switching it up from the 1990 miniseries, Muschietti wisely decides to stick with the children’s portion of the story (easily the more favourable side) and the casting is so on point! There are no weak characters and the characterization of the kids is so good, their banter and chemistry felt nothing but organic. These loveable Losers are foul mouthed and funny. I was genuinely surprised by how much this movie made me laugh ala ROCK WAR!

Now to the man of the hour, Mr Pennywise the Dancing Clown played by the rather unknown member of the Skarsgard family; Bill Skarsgard… and boy he is fucking phenomenal! Whereas the 1990 Tim Curry version of Pennywise was played more for laughs, Muschietti’s Pennywise is a twisted version of a circus clown possessed. Skarsgard leaves a helluva impression, the subtle touches he goes with makes it all the more terrifying; the drool, the screwy eye, the rabbit-toothed smile… There were moments of pure terror and his actions felt so unpredictable. Skarsgard’s Pennywise can happily be added to the list of iconic horror villains.

Even with a lengthy running time of 135 minutes, the film never feels like it has over stayed its welcome and there is never a dull moment. Pennywise is cleverly sparsely seen, making it all the more powerful for when he does pop (pop! pop, pop, pop!) up. The locations and set pieces too are amazing and are characters themselves. The Neibolt House (a personal favourite) offers inventive scares in the twisted maze like haunted house style.

Whilst being terrifying, the films also holds some tender moments. Pennywise brings the scares, but the kids bring the heart. At its core the story touches on some quite dark themes; murder, death, grief, bullying, rape, abuse and all that bundled in together can hit you right in the feels.

It brings you scare after scare and Muschietti so kindly doesn’t resort to using jump scares as a tactic. I say it’s scary, but it is scary in a way that a rollercoaster is scary because all throughout the film I was smiling like a mad woman.

The most exciting aspect of It, is the fact that a big studio has spent a lot of money on a horror. In saying that, I don’t think all horrors need massive budgets but it is refreshing to see a horror do so well in mainstream cinema. It’s time to kill the superhero blockbusters and bring in something a little darker.

Muschietti’s It is an absolute classic, the film itself is a gorgeous piece of cinematography and there is the added bonus that all the children actors can act so well. Alas, the film is not perfect with some patchy CGI taking centre stage… I’m looking at you twisted face flute lady, but the film perfectly captures adolescence and overcoming your fears. Bring on Chapter Two!

9.0 / 10

“If you’ll come with me, you’ll float too”

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Pet Sematary (1989)

 

 

You know… All this hassle could have been avoided with a fence

Behind a young family’s home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life and death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

Adapted from the novel of the same name from horror maestro Stephen King, Mary Lambert’s 1989 film adaptation is a ghastly tale of supernatural rebirth that hammers in on tragic themes but can’t escape from being a little on the silly side.

King unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a tonne of success with his novel to film adaptations. Of all the attempts only a handful stand out as tremendous successes; Carrie, The Shining, Misery. Regrettably, Pet Sematary fails to make the list of honours.

There is terror here no doubt about it and the dark themes of death and grief bring a tragic atmosphere of despair, but Lambert fails to build an enticing pace and plays heavily in the corny realm of comedy at times. Kudos to her though, she would take another stab at the sequel in 1992.

4.5 / 10

“Sometimes dead is better”

The Girl With All The Gifts (2017)

Yes… I’m going to be one of those assholes that screams the book was better… (just)

A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.

Previously a novel of the same name from 2014, The Girl with All the Gifts, is an oddly adapted screenplay penned by the author M.R Carey. I say oddly, because the film is completely different to the novel, so much so that major characters have entirely different deaths and defining character moments are completely missing. For me that is just a no no.

Director Colm McCarthy’s vision of the film, is an unfortunate lazy adaptation of the book. The monstrous makeup was exactly that, the crusty rot was overly exaggerated and moments so painfully awkward that there could possibly be no saving grace for the film.

The backdrop of The Girl with All the Gifts is a wonder to admire and both Paddy Considine and Gemma Arterton are powerful in their roles, but the characters are paper thin and the lack of chemistry was noticeably missing. It’s an unfortunate slip for what was a semi-powerful novel to be adapted into another ineffective cringe worthy zombie film.

4.5 / 10

“If I had a box of bad things I’d put you in it and close the lid”