I saw ‘IT’ today, to me it’s an example of how one filmmaker can change a genre. In this case it’s James Wan, who’s films have become best known for their set piece spooky scares.
So ‘IT’ is all about the set pieces, in fact that’s pretty much all their is. You’ve not sooner got through one when there’s another one coming along, with barely two mins of plot or character to bridge the gap.
It leaves the film feeling quite light and empty, we never get into the deeper history of the town or the personal history of any of the characters. The kids (the main characters) feel lightly sketched and the adults are defined by one characteristic at most.
Now, this is a long time genre fan talking, and I was aware that the mainstream audience around me had a fine time. They were reacting vocally with gasps and and tension-relieved laughs in all the right places.
But there’s a better film in here (potentially), one with less in-your-face make-up and VFX (a lot of which is too blatant) and story.
As a Friday night movie it’s fine, but Wan still does this sort of thing better, and it’s largely because he does take the time to develop plot and character. His films aren’t super deep, but he knows that we want to care about what’s happening, as well as jump out of our seats.
And he also knows that he can spend most of the film not showing us things in detail, and letting our imagination make it even worse in our own heads.
Not a failure, but not what IT could be.