Horror author Stephen King knows what scares us because he knows what hurts. It's the key to his success. He makes horror a personal experience ...
Horror author Stephen King knows what scares us because he knows what hurts.
It's the key to his success. He makes horror a personal experience, but it's not easily laid out in commonplace exposition.
King uses pages and pages, dozens, giving his characters deep, traumatic motivations for doing the things they do; for the people who are good and especially for those who are bad. But, most of the movies made from his books were terrible misfires, mainly because the screenwriters hired for the adaptations needed to condense the complicated plots, shave off a little of the more unpleasant aspects to make them more palatable for people sitting in the dark next to strangers, and to zero-in on what they considered more important stuff.
Of course, that’s the big difference between movies and books. Which brings us to the latest of the two films adapting King’s novel, “It.”
The first chapter focused on the middle school-aged kids who called themselves The Losers Club — Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Martell), Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazier), Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) and Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis). They call themselves “losers” because that’s what everybody else have labeled them: their teachers, parents and certainly the gang of bullies led by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton).
Together, they discover the strangely periodic phenomena of child disappearances that have plagued the Town of Derry for more than a century and become curious about why the adults don’t seem to think it’s that big a deal. But, after Bill’s little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes missing, the mystery becomes an obsession. Eventually, they discover the source: an unspeakably evil circus clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) who possesses supernatural powers. After defeating Pennywise, the beaten and emotionally scarred Losers vow to return to Derry if Pennywise ever returns.
Now, 27 years later, he’s back.
The Losers are now adults — Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) and Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) — complete with complicated lives, troubles of their own and a kind of blank spot in their memories about what exactly happened back in Derry when they were kids. All moved away except for Mike, who now owns the town library where he lives upstairs and has kept track of anything that might indicate Pennywise is back. It is he who alerts his friends that is indeed what has happened, but getting them to come back and make good their promise isn’t easy.
In fact, this leads to the more difficult conundrum of this movie.
This first chapter was engaging because it dealt with innocence in conflict with an epic evil presence, little kids finding little kid answers to fighting something huge and indifferent to them save trying to scare them to death at every turn. But, as adults, these same characters, as written for the movie, aren’t nearly as relatable, perhaps because they each have fallen victim in various degrees to the psychological damage done to them as kids.
Director Andy Muschietti, who did both films, pushes the envelope when it comes to frightening moments, showing us that Pennywise certainly means business especially when it comes to human foes, who still think he’s an evil without faults. But the scares become a kind of regularly doled out punctuation to the back-story for each of the characters. We learn a lot about what Pennywise did to them inside, and the ensemble of adult actors do a credible job of illustrating this, but in some ways the young actors who played them in the first movie better illustrated the stakes involved and went ahead anyway.
Another disturbing fault in this film lies in the perpetuation of a certain stereotype related to Native American spirituality. The evil of Pennywise, it seems, is part of the region’s tribal folklore and an attempt was made by Natives to fight it. King used this scenario in the book and director Muschietti makes use of it in this movie, but neither makes use of an understanding of authentic Natives values and traditions.
Still, it’s a pair of movies that will become a great package set once it winds up in home video.
Tempo grade: B
“It: Chapter Two” is rated R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material.
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos
MPAA rating: Not rated
Taos Community Auditorium
The presentation of this documentary titled “Trash Dance” is a pre-Paseo event, which will include a live presentation by Paseo director-curator Matt Thomas.
Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and in the unseen men and women who pick up our trash. Filmmaker Andrew Garrison follows Orr as she rides along with Austin sanitation workers on their daily routes to observe and later convince them to perform a most unlikely spectacle.
On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks deliver — for one night only — a stunningly beautiful and moving performance, in front of an audience of thousands, who are awed to discover how in the world a garbage truck can "dance."
This film will be screened at at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Sept. 9-11) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.
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