I see a lot of movies. Maybe it’s just my love of good story, but I thought that I’d start reviewing some of the movies I see on this blog and write about them from a writer’s perspective.
Story is highly important, but I also have some background in film so I thought that reviewing the films I see every once in a while isn’t a bad idea.
I promise not to spoil anything either.
I read Stephen King’s novel “IT” when I was in high school. I remember it being a terrifying ride through the past but a quintessential King story: a nameless evil is threatening a group of people and only they can stop it.
The miniseries (which I re-watched before seeing the motion picture) still holds together after all these years even if the screenwriting leaves something to be desired. The producers of that film had to work within network censors, and did a fantastic job of telling the story of the novel without compromising its themes or any of its main frights.
This leads me to the current 2017 offering by director Anthony Muscietti. He has managed to encapsulate the terror of the book through phantasmagoric imagery that is at once horrifying and strangely comical. I felt like I was watching the goonies take on Pennywise.
That being said, there is some amazing writing in this film. Gary Dauberman’s screenplay (read an interview with him here) captures the essence of the Loser’s Club and the horrific playfulness of Pennywise through dialogue that encapsulates the sheer joy/awkwardness of what it was like to be a middle schooler in the 80’s.
I should know. I was one.
The script is dripping with 80’s kid angst, the truth of the “happy decade” that we all like to remember having the lid pulled back to see the darker problems that lay beneath the glitz and glam. There are so many quotable lines in this film, namely because even though kids shouldn’t talk like these kids do (there are 40 f-words in the film, most spoken by the kids) the kids are real. I know my parents kept a close reign on my language when I was a kid, but that didn’t stop my friends. The constant innuendo from one of the characters is indicative of a boy that age without boundaries, and the home lives of these kids are in some ways more terrible than the evil clown who wishes to drag them down to float with him.
The structure of the plot is as it is in the novel, and it is one of the best stories to come from King. Dauberman changes a few things, but they are not striking enough to cause a true fan to balk. In many ways the changes are needed to reach a more modern audience who may not have read the novel or have seen the early 90’s mini-series. The mythos is floating in the background (the turtle shows up a few times) and the action is not bogged down in the details. It is frightening where it needs to be, is not overly gory as to be a gross-out film (which is a current trend that is tired) and is actually humorous and heart-felt when we need that little pick-me-up in the midst of the walking childhood trauma that is Pennywise the Clown.
I’ll have to admit that I don’t really like horror movies. I don’t watch them, especially in theaters because of some very irrational phobias. This writer’s imagination is sometimes more active that what is seen on screen, and the idea of going to a theater to see it realized on a large screen is beyond frightening for me.
But I love this film. I laughed, jumped, and fell in love with the story.
So if you are a writer, then go see this. You’ll get some inspiration for good dialogue, and see how a story can work on a multi-level structure.
Hint: And watch the out-of-focus backgrounds. Some of that stuff was more creepy than anything that jumps out at you in focus.