“It” (2017) is Ho-Hum Stephen King Horror Adaptation

Being trapped in a funhouse of fears with precocious kids and a flesh-eating dancing clown may be the stuff of horror film aficionado fever dreams. But something is definitely missing in Andy Muschietti’s movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, It (C+), chapter one of a planned duology, a film that oozes with Spielbergian nostalgia but mostly floats in a preposterous purgatory. The director starts with promise and establishes a credible hero played by Jaeden Wesley Lieberher. The youngster leads a tepid tween team of protagonists who are a bit too Stand By Me-esque to feel like true originals. The first glimpse of Bill Skarsgård as the phantom pantaloon with a Cockney cannibal pie hole is menacing indeed. But too many kids, too many CGI shape-shifters and too many similar set-ups render the enterprise less than terrifying. After a while the answer to everything seems to be, “Cue the clown!” It’s ultimately a horror film without enough scares. Sophia Lillis is a standout as a young lady battling family dysfunction, but hers and all subplots are half-baked. These goonies aren’t good enough. By the end, it’s rather unclear why things unspool the way they do or why it might take a second chapter to tell this tale.

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