It ★★

Essentially Stand by Me with jump scares and an extra 45 minutes to weigh it down.

The horror and coming-of-age elements are so disjointed. In previous adaptations of Stephen King's work (Carrie immediately comes to mind), the supernatural and evil forces come second to the horror of pubescent struggles. Bullies are cruel and that is scary enough -- the only moments of It that truly shocked me were the human ones, a teenager picking on a younger boy or a father abusing his daughter. I couldn't care less about a clown with a completely muddled backstory when all these children have much more significant issues at home with their parents or at school with their bullies.

Even if I could accept them as two tracks of the same narrative, neither the horror nor coming-of-age elements were effective to me. My audience (as I'm sure most audiences have reacted) was thoroughly affected by this movie, screaming and laughing constantly. As a person who jumps at a knock at the door, the scares all fell so flat. A few sequences effectively build tension, but most are just predictable sound cues and flashing images that feel completely cheap and uncreative. This type of horror can be fun, but I just couldn't get into it. I did not find this movie scary in more than a handful of places, and often times, I didn't even blink when that ugly clown popped up. The reliance on CGI might have been an issue for me, as well, considering that most of the incarnations of this creature look really damn weird as soon as it emerges from the shadows. It's always better to keep your creature lurking in the dark -- don't let us look at it for more than a few seconds. It won't get any scarier.

There are numerous scenes, separate from the horror, of these kids riding around and chatting, and they were just as ineffective for me. I've voiced my love in the past of movies that let kids interact, but I just wasn't charmed by it here. I've seen a great deal of praise for the way the kids talked, but I couldn't disagree more. The vulgarity was so off-putting. I don't know who y'all were friends with, but I don't remember kids talking about their dicks at such a high frequency and in such a gross way. Stand by Me has this in a more measured way, but there's no restraint here. These kids say fuck every few lines, and it's just excessive. This gets doubly uncomfortable when paired with the sexualization of young bodies, particularly in a very strange scene at the lake in which a young girl dropping a towel has all the boys staring. It just wasn't something I enjoyed.

Perhaps my greatest issue, the one that disappointed me most, was my apathy while watching this. I didn't particularly care about the romantic subplots or even the disagreements between friends. I cared about the kids on a surface level, and I was nervous when they were threatened, but their characterizations felt so flat. I feel like I've seen all these characters before and in better movies. The coming-of-age elements here are so basic and do nothing to add to the genre. I'm glad y'all have been enjoying this, and I don't want to discourage anyone from seeing it, but I just don't understand why it's something that exists. It's just copy, pastiche of pastiche without any kind of unique perspective or particularly powerful sequences.

The child actors were (mostly) competent, despite the rough dialogue and cringe-worthy monologues, and Chung Chung-Hoon's cinematography is strangely brilliant, but that's about it. Clearly I'm in the minority opinion on this one (what's new?), so I'm guessing most of y'all will still have a good time with this. I wish I could say that I did.

Rating: 35/100

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