Mar 29, 2017

Trailing Off: "IT" (2017)

Scene from It
Welcome to the sporadic column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion

Directed By: Andres Muschiette
Written By; Stephen King (Novel), Gary Dauberman & Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga (Screenplay)
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Javier Botet

- Preamble -

There's no denying that Stephen King is one of the most popular writers of the 20th century. If you haven't read any of his books, then you probably have seen an adaptation of one. After all, some of them have won Oscars, even more nominated. He is a unstoppable force whose twisted take on fantasy and horror has helped to shape genre literature and movies for several decades now. For fans of his work, 2017 will be a big year. There will finally be an adaptation of the Dark Tower series. However, there's one that's probably going to be a whole lot more in demand, if just because there's a filmed version to compare it to: It.
With a great body of work to his credit, "It" probably remains King's most recognized work. It even inspired parts of Stranger Things. The antagonist Pennywise (or "It") is one of the most influential figures in the nightmare fuel genre. There's whole generations who hate clowns because of King, and it's a factor that was even joked about last year after random clowns began appearing in the Midwest states. "It" may not be a book with a plot as recognizable as "Carrie" or "The Shining" (depending on which version you prefer), but its imagery has become key to understanding the fears of a generation.
This is why it makes sense to have hesitation at a remake that sees Bill Skarsgard fill the role that has long been believed to belong to Tim Curry. What exactly can Skarsgard bring to Pennywise that will make him menacing in the right ways? While it seemed hopeful when True Detective director Cary Fukunaga was attached, there's some hesitation to be had with the final assembly, even if Andres Muschiette has a decent track record with horror. With all of this said, it may be tough for some to differentiate this from the miniseries that's deeply rooted in their identity. Even then, it's going to be interesting to see what can be done in an unabashed, uncensored take that is allowed to go into deranged places not provided back in the early 90's.

- Dissection -

There's certain things to consider when looking at this trailer. Like any film of any genre, there's certain conventions that are inescapable. For horror, there's a lot of melodramatic music and editing. There's practically no nuance to anything about the tone of a film. The one issue with It is the issue that has faced every even remotely good horror movie of the past few years: the trailers are very formulaic. They want to push the horror, and they do it through a visceral aggression. By the end, one of the things that comes across is that the movie being advertised is scary. However, it would be difficult to suggest that It is this landmark novel by the images, if just because it's cut like something that you've seen before.
This is a notion that the viewer has to get over to get into the nitty gritty of what's on display. Anyone who has seen the miniseries will be very familiar with the plot of the film. It follows a group of kids who have encounters with Pennywise. It's a freakish, unnerving tale that comes across in the trailer. You're left a tad unnerved by the moments that reminisce from the novel. The sight of Pennywise is creepy. The entire "You'll float, too" motif is too iconic not to include, and is given great use. As a whole, this embodies a darker and more demented take on the story, and it's probably going to be done in a bold way. One can only hope that the creators have their hearts in the right place.
What probably sets it ahead of other potential remakes is that this feels like a chance to do It right. The miniseries had the limitations of censorship and budget for the early 90's. There's clearly places that that story could've gone if it was allowed to be as grotesque and horrifying as King's words were. While that It will hold relevance to a certain audience, there's no denying that having more money to make the story feel more lived in and possibly even more cinematic will hopefully be the right elements to make it pop. It's promising, if just because this imagining of Pennywise hasn't spoken yet, and he has managed to start scarring the audience. That's a good sign that this could go well.

- One Sentence Sell -
An adaptation of Stephen King's most renowned horror novel follows a group of kids and a scary clown with unnerving results.

- Trove or Trash -

It could just be that this is one of King's most beloved works and has my curiosity because of that, but I do think that the trailer, amid its tropes, manages to convey the disturbing elements that will make this version stand out and hopefully succeed as an adaptation.

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