Let me just begin by assuring you all that I am fully aware of the good qualities in this popular film franchise directed by Andrés Muschietti. Here they are: IT (2017) and IT: CHAPTER 2 (2019) both have beautiful cinematography and strong performances by very young actors. There are also a couple legit scares in IT. Like at least 2.
With a combined budget of $124 million I think we all had a right to expect a lot more.
Let’s start by discussing why these films are bad. First and foremost, we have to blame the source material. Stephen King’s book is sexist and racist and homophobic and these qualities get carried over into the films. However, as we all know, film adaptations often make changes from the book they’re based on.
IT is no different. A lot of things are updated in the new films relative to the book. There’s no child orgy, for one. Nor is there a graphic child-rape. Delightful, thank you so much. But if you are gonna take the time to fix a couple really egregious issues with the source material why the hell not fix all of them? Why keep in the blatant sexism, racism, and (in CHAPTER 2) homophobia? Better yet, just make a different movie altogether.
Possibly an even worse sin in the Brandy N. Carie playbook is that the narrative structure of these two films is a disaster. I learned from this informative article that the original novel (which I shall never read) is structured with interweaving narratives: one in the past and one in the “present”/1980s. It seems like the films are set to split this narrative in half, since the first installment focuses exclusively on the kids. But surprise! IT: CHAPTER 2 still heavily features the kids in constant flashbacks that repeat the narrative of the first film (while also changing details that make no sense AKA Beverly killed her dad in Chapter 1 but then didn’t in Chapter 2, what the hell??). The flashbacks also function to mimic the structure of the entire novel. In other words: IT: CHAPTER 2 is the entire story of IT and they only made two movies to grab more of your dollars. We should’ve seen this coming after THE HOBBIT (2012-2014) disaster. Embarrassingly, I was unprepared.
Because of all these structural shenanigans, IT: CHAPTER 2 is truly a draggy mess. If you’ve seen IT you’ve already seen all the terrors that CHAPTER 2 has in store for you, but CHAPTER 2 is still 50 percent longer than the first film. This seems to be purely for the purpose of giving us a bunch of additional (non-plot-related) information about the children. It also ensures we spend as much time as possible watching homophobic hate crimes and general gay self-hate. It adds nothing to the movie except approximately forty minutes of me hoping my power goes out so I don’t have to keep watching.
(My power did not go out.)
But the thing that really fucking kills me at the end of the day is that budget. Bad movies are a dime a dozen. The crimes of the IT franchise are not really any worse than many other bad movies. But they spent SO MUCH MONEY to be this mediocre. IT cost $35 million and IT: CHAPTER 2 cost $79 million. I have no tolerance for this craven squandering of resources.
Maybe some context will help us all understand what a dastardly waste of money the IT franchise is. The following excellent horror movies have been released within the last 5 years:
|GET OUT (2017)||$4.5 million|
|IT COMES AT NIGHT (2017)||$2.4-5 million (estimated)|
|MANDY (2018)||$6 million|
|HEREDITARY (2018)||$10 million|
|READY OR NOT (2019)||$6 million|
|US (2019)||$20 million|
|MIDSOMMAR (2019)||$9 million|
If the options are either 1) revisit the book where children have an orgy to beat a clown-monster, or 2) have 10 new movies as inventive and terrifying as IT COMES AT NIGHT …I don’t understand why this is even a question worth considering.
If we could’ve had 10-13 additional Ari Aster or Jordan Peele masterpieces, the last 5 years would’ve been better for everyone. Or better yet: give that money to a woman. Literally Any Woman. Or maybe a bunch of women!
The only horror film I could find that even had a budget approaching the cost of the first IT film was DOCTOR SLEEP (2019). Another King behemoth at 2.5 hours and $45 million. I haven’t seen it. At this point I don’t know if I want to.
Does “IT” pass?
- The Bechdel-Wallace Test: No. In six hours of this movie there are literally 3 women who never speak to each other.
- The Sexy Lamp Test: No. Beverly is a lamp with a post-it on her that says “you are worthy”
- The Willis Test: No. I can in no world imagine a world where 1 hot teen boy hangs out with a group of teen girl “losers” and gives them all self-esteem
- The Ko Test: No. The only non-white character is male
- The Roxane Gay Test: No. Nope. Noooooo.
Is there a scary book that you think actually deserves a 2-film, $124 million deal? Tell me about it! I could use a good scare, especially one that doesn’t give me a screen-headache.