Getting Over IT with Jon Sharpe

Surprised I finally found a clown funny after 22 years.

So this past week I watched both halves of the “IT” remake, and I have to say my opinions on each movie were entirely different from what I expected. If you didn’t know, the original “IT” is considered great in the first half and awful in the second, so I expected to feel the same.

That changed after watching the first half.

I absolutely hated the first part of “IT.” None of the jokes were funny to me, and none of the horror parts were actually scary. This apparently is a bad opinion though because my friends absolutely loved the film.

I really couldn’t connect with the characters all that much, but maybe that’s just because I’m an adult living on my own. The main characters being kids just made me lose any feeling of a surrogate character, making the stakes never feel all that real.

The other thing is that they aren’t written like real children at all.

From the one kid who curses in almost every other sentence to the bullies who just openly assault people in broad daylight, none of them feel like real people — just characters written to fill a role by a grown man.

This doesn’t mean “IT” was a bad movie — it just wasn’t the movie for me. It had great cinematography, and I actually thought the child actors did a great job. “IT” also had great sound design and effect work that, if I had gotten immersed in the film, would have created a great sense of tension. Maybe it was better in theaters, but I won’t really know.

On a quick side note, don’t read the book. Actually, do read the book, but there are about 10 pages that you should skip over at whatever cost.

See, in the original book there is a scene in which the 11-year-old children participate in some totally not 11 year old behavior. While King says that he didn’t mean anything sexual by it, it’s still disturbing that it exists, and I’m surprised no one tried to investigate or sue him.

Like seriously, his defense is that there are multiple child murders, so why are people so focused on the child orgy. That’s not a defense, just a deflection tactic.

Back on topic, “IT Chapter Two” was an amazing film in my eyes. I felt that a majority of the jokes hit their mark, and I was absolutely horrified by some of scares throughout the film.

One of the biggest improvements in my eyes were the characters. Maybe it’s just because as an adult I better connect with other adults, but they all felt more real as characters compared to their childhood counterparts.

Their issues were ones I could connect to, and the actors did a better job at showing the long-standing emotional strain that these characters had. They made impulsive and brash decisions, but ones that I could see myself doing in their shoes.

The horror was also bumped up a notch. Because I was invested in the characters, the stakes felt high, and I was genuinely afraid at many moments throughout the film — at one point I felt so afraid that I was physically recoiling from the screen.

Each moment of horror had better buildup and a better subsequent payoff.

What helped the horror the most was the film’s tone.

The first film took itself way too seriously for a movie about a clown. All of the jokes in the film were made by the characters in-universe. On the other hand, the second chapter is incredibly comedic in the time between scares. While the characters are still trying to make jokes, the film makers themselves create numerous comedic situations through the plot and editing.

At one point in the second film, during one of the moments of horror, the payoff to the tension is defused through a music cue that had the whole theater in stitches. The character was terrified, yet this song coming on came out of nowhere like a crack of a whip, breaking that tension into a cloud of comedy.

They do this multiple times in the film, where the moments of high tension are almost bound at the hip with the comedic moments of the film.

This weird relationship with horror and comedy can be seen in almost all of my favorite films, where the two genres do a strange waltz that perfectly complements the other. Horror defused by comedy only makes the jokes funnier, and comedy abruptly shattered by horror can scare the living daylights out of anyone.

I want more movies that take advantage of this weird relationship between the two, because if done right it always makes the movie better. And I’m not talking about horror parodies like “Scary Movie” because they don’t actually contain any real horror — they just make fun of the whole genre in a way that doesn’t even use its strengths.

I rate movies from -10 to 10, with negatives being so bad its good. I don’t even need the negatives this week though. The first chapter gets a 7 just because I personally didn’t enjoy it all that much, while the second gets a 9 for simultaneously being one of the scariest and funniest movies I’ve seen in theaters for a while.

This week I want to give a shout out to theaters for creating such a great environment to watch films. Even though with Netflix and other streaming services you can watch a film in the comfort of your own home, movies seen in the cinema always have a more grandiose scale to them.

For example, at one point in the second film, they have a moment where the characters hear something behind them and turn around. In the theater, that sound came alone from a single speaker in the back of the theater, immersing you in the characters’ desire to turn around. Theaters are expensive though, so it’s rare that I actually see something in them.

This article was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon’s Bad Movie Showcase.

Editing done by Evan Newell

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