Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Award: Stephen King

If you’ve been to my site over the years it’s not secret that I am a huge fan of Stephen King, and I have sought almost any opportunity I could find to write about him.

Here are some notable instances:

A review of It (1990)
A series on his as-of-yet unadapted works
A series on adaptations of his work focusing mostly on Maximum Overdrive

However, in the BAM Awards as entertainer of the year was not something I foresaw.

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Throughout the year I made mental notes of actors and directors who had multiple credits to their name who made their mark through a large swath of the calendar year. I usually like these awards to be like revelations rather than conscious decisions. Once I tried resisting choosing King, I knew he was the only choice.

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And I only resisted because picking the creator of source material would be a new frontier, but it is worthy of inclusion. I always cite the author of source material in my nominations on equal footing with the screenwriters.

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With it seeming, based on early looks, that King was going to have a very good year, many retrospectives came but the new work showed there are people working now who want to work with his material, and know how to mold it for film.

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And it was a very good year for Stephen King, and the BAM Awards were no exception. Films based on his works garnered 30 nominations; including three of five Best Adapted Screenplay nominations.

He also saw two more of his works turned into TV shows Mr. Mercedes and The Mist.

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He and his son Owen released the timely novel Sleeping Beauties, and he has a new novel due out this spring; so it’s clear he’s still kicking but his impact on me and many has been long-lasting and will continue, but 2017 cinematically was a standout for highlighting his work, and it’s why he’s the recipient of this prize.

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And the 2017 BAM Award Goes To…

This year I switched up a few things. First, as opposed to live-blogging the nominees I’m live-blogging the announcements category-by-category. I will also be brief in any writing I add to the categories (except maybe special categories) as I feel most may just skim anyway. Plus, I feel a sparsity of words may underscore the fact that when it comes to the BAM Awards, which reflect my year in film alone, as arduous as the decision-making process is it is the nomination that means the most.

The selected nominee is in BOLD  and pictured.

UPDATE: The 2017 specific categories are done. The special awards will get their own post tomorrow, the 10th, just as they did last year. 

Best Picture

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The Big Sick
Blade Runner 2049
Coco
Get Out
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Split
Wind River
Wonderstruck

My blurb on It, the other Best Picture nominees, and about ten more films will be coming in my best of 2017 list.

Most Overlooked Picture

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1922
All Saints
Columbus
The Dark Tower
The Glass Castle
The Space Between Us
Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein
Wind River
Wonderstruck
XX

Between the time I saw this film and started thinking about awards I did not think about it that often. When considering each category it kept coming up. There’s a reason why. Here’s my original Letterboxd review.

A deftly handled meticulously-framed and lit film that within its subtle introduction to its characters finds their hearts and souls at times of quiet, introspective crisis and allows the characters to find each other and voice their concerns. The movements are small but meaningful and underscored by a score that folds itself into the visual, aiding the overall impact. Haley Lu Richardson is a revelation.

Best Director

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Andy Muschietti It
Jordan Peele Get Out
Michael Showalter The Big Sick
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina Coco

All I said about how It came together below is thanks to Muschietti’s vision. His previous film was Mama which I thought had a brilliant and protracted climactic sequence. He brought that to this film as well and it was needed.

Best Actress

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Carla Gugino Gerald’s Game
Sally Hawkins The Shape of Water
Haley Lu Richardson Columbus
Aubrey Plaza Ingrid Goes West
Frances McDormand Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Ronan Lady Bird

To emote so effectively without words is quite literally the essence of film acting. It’s unfortunate for the film that there’s that fanciful musical number but that isn’t held against Hawkins.

Best Actor

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James Franco The Disaster Artist
Ryan Gosling Blade Runner 2049
Daniel Kaluuya Get Out
James McAvoy Split
Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Denzel Washington Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Getting this category down to five was one of the things that made me expand acting categories. It just wasn’t going to happen. These performances are varied, and arresting in their own way. It’d be an oversimplification to say James McAvoy was selected for playing a character with multiple personalities. What really does it how he becomes the characters entirely. It’s a work of genius on his part.

Best Supporting Actress

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Betty Buckley Split
Carrie Fisher Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Holly Hunter The Big Sick
Catherine Keener Get Out
Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird
Carla Juri Blade Runner 2049

This was another tough one and all these ladies deserve their due. Carla Juri doesn’t have much time on screen but all her scenes are replete with pathos, Katherine Keener is appropriately hypnotic in Get Out; in a sort of reverse side of the coin Betty Buckley’s captivating, sensitive portrayal of a psychiatrist who is willing to see past the commonplace in Split. Carrie Fisher brought a sagacity and played much bigger scenes in this Star Wars as opposed to the one prior and buoyed an even better film. But as much was follow Lady Bird’s travails in the eponymous film it is Laurie Metcalf that ends up dominating it.

Best Supporting Actor

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Sterling K. Brown Marshall
Dave Franco The Disaster Artist
Richard Jenkins The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Bill Skarsgård It

Ultimately, what decided this one was arc and the execution of it. Sam Rockwell is stellar at all stages of his character’s progression.

Best Cast

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Benicio Del Toro, Frank Oz, Warwick Davis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gareth Edwards

The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, David Alan Grier, Ed Herbstman, Shenaz Treasury, Kuhoo Verma, Mitra Jouhari, Myra Lucretia Taylor

Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, LilRel Howert, Erika Alexander

The Disaster Artist

James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Paul Scheer, Ari Graynor, Jacki WeaverMegan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Nathan Fielder, Hannibal Buress, Bob Odenkirk, Ike Batinholtz, Kevin Smith, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, Kristen Bell, J.J. Abrams, Lizzy Caplan, Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

It

Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert, Stuart Hughes, Geoffrey Pounsett, Molly Jane Atkinson

Wind River

Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Apesanahkwat, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Olsen, Tantoo Cardinal, Eric Lange, Gil Birmingham, Althea Sam, Tokala Clifford, Jon Bernthal

When selecting a collective award it can be difficult to parse it out. The truism “You’re only as strong as your weakest link” can be used. But That couldn’t break this down. What ultimately made all the difference was moments of deep emotional impact that hit me from as many players in parts large and small. The kids of It have most of their movies moments, many people get their fair share in The Big SickStar Wars, and Get OutThe Disaster Artist works so well because there are so many actors I like in it having a ball. But the cast of Wind River hit me almost to a man with moments of emotional resonance but also unadulterated humanity and portraying the human condition is what acting is and this was the best example of it in all of its shades.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

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Ella Anderson The Glass Castle
Sophia Lillis It
Millicent Simmonds Wonderstruck
Izabela Vidovic Wonder
Lulu Wilson Annabelle: Creation
Maddie Ziegler The Book of Henry

As the category below this one also got rather difficult to choose, but eventually I did. All these nominees are very noteworthy. If you only know Ella Anderson from her role on Henry Danger you owe it to yourself to see The Glass Castle if you couldn’t tell the talent that was there its on full display in this part. Millicent Simmonds also does some silent work and breaks out carrying her own half of Wonderstruck easily. Izabela Vidovic is a marvel in Wonder and breathes such life into Thornton Wilder’s Our Town it was a joy to behold. Lulu Wilson is here again and she may be nominated quite a few more times the way she;s going. But the burst-on-to-the-scene dominant performance imbuing Beverly Marsh will all the attributes she needed to have is Sophia Lillis, she’s cool, she’s misunderstood, funny, genuinely kind to all her Losers’ Club friends even the ones who are hangin’ tough, and is fighting her own villain at home; and she pulls it off with the ease of a veteran, which is why she gets the award.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Bear with me the format will be a little different here. First came these realizations.

One thing that’s curious is that as you proceed through a process over and over you start noticing things about it you never considered before. The first split in the youth categories was to allow young actors in smaller roles to get recognition too. And then why not give kids equal footing (in terms of categories) with their adult counterparts? With so many more opportunities now with cable, premium cable, streaming services offering not just series but films it seems odd to try and cite statistics about young performers transitioning to adult roles. It’s an unfair comparison. But what I can tell through this change in focus at my awards that the opportunities may still be unequal (skewed against women and girls) but the talent not just abounds but it is canny. But the newest observation is that having a category that actors could age out of may make it seem like destiny that a multiple nominee will get it “next year” or that the field just opened up because a a multiple-winner is now in the adult bracket (recent examples being Elle Fanning and Kodi Smit-McPhee). But the award has to be merit-based and given with the realization that literally any of these actors could have been chosen.

The above was all well and good and leading to an actual decision among these nominees.

It’s been one of the two hardest categories to pick all year. This year in the interest of symmetry and due to decision fatigue in part I gave all the Youth Categories six nominees rather than having the occasional category balloon as I had for a while. But I didn’t regret it at all and all the nominees are great!

Alas, when it came time to post who I was going to award on my 5,897th mind-change I accidentally thought of the wrong name when going to do an image search. Then I realized going back to my roots that I created this award as a reaction to the Oscars. They’ve had six ties in 89 years, on every 14.833. This is the 22nd edition of my awards. I’m owed a tie, it was hard enough getting down to two. The BAMs go to…

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Oakes Fegley Wonderstruck
Noah Jupe Suburbicon
Judah Lewis The Babysitter
Jaeden Lieberher It
Tom Taylor The Dark Tower
Jacob Tremblay Wonder

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

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Lilly Aspell Wonder Woman
Chiara Aurelia Gerald’s Game
Lola Flanery Home Again
Peyton Kennedy XX
Amiah Miller War for the Planet of the Apes
Olivia Kate Rice The Glass Castle

Playing the younger version of an adult protagonist can be at times thankless and also a narrative afterthought. Lilly Aspell does quite well in the prologue of Wonder Woman but then Gal shows up and is Wonder Woman and you have to take a view of the whole film to keep her in mind. Amiah Miller’s silent presence in War for the Planet of the Apes is great but doesn’t transcend scenes. Lola Flanery is the standout of the young girls in Home Again and The Glass Castle has a tremendous young group but also parallel timeframes that divide time. Chiara Aurelia, however, features in flashbacks that are crucial to Gerald’s Game and her performance is breathtaking and resonates deeply.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

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Jack Dylan Grazer It
Wyatt Oleff It
Chosen Jacobs It
Noah Jupe Wonder
Jeremy Ray Taylor It
Finn Wolfhard It

Again like Best Song a vast majority of the choices here were from the same film. Noah Jupe is also included in Best Performance by a Young Actor in Suburbicon, so he clearly had a breakout year. How to choose among the Losers’ Club basically came down to two factors: who feeling out of place would have adversely affected the film and if all things were equal who added the most to the film. Finn actually had the disadvantage of my knowing his work from Stranger Things, however, Mike Wheeler and Richie Tozier are but superficially similar. Richie’s truer feelings are held closer to the vest than Mike’s are. Richie jokes and curses about everything whether it’s appropriate or not, many times its a defense mechanism against his fears and any other insecurity he may feel, he has to do these things elicit laughs, shrugs, eye-rolls, be relatable but also be that kid who you’d say ‘Yeah, he gets on our nerves but he’s my friend,’ that and his being the biggest foil to Bill’s single-minded mission make Finn the choice.

Best Youth Ensemble

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The Glass Castle 

Ella Anderson, Chandler Head, Charlie Shotwell, Iain Armitage, Sadie Sink, Olivia Kate Rice, Shree Grace Crooks, and Ellen Grace Redfield
It

Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott and Nicholas Hamilton

Wonder 

Jacob Tremblay, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, James Hughes, Elle McKinnon, Millie Davis, et al.

Wonderstruck 

Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley, Jaden Michael, Sawyer Niehaus, et al.

Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein 

Anton Petzold, Juri Winkler, and  Tristan Göbel
The Beguiled

Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, and Emma Howard

If you saw the nominations you probably saw this selection coming, however, not to be lost in that is the fact that all these ensembles are great, and the films worth very much worth viewing especially the under seen The Glass Castle. As for the ensemble in It they rival any of the groups that have won this award thus far.

Best Original Screenplay

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Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Jordan Peele Get Out
Lee Unkrich & Jason Katz & Matthew Aldrich & Adrian Morris Coco
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Martin McDonagh Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Original screenplays are where, above all, I want to have my mind blown. One of the most mind-blowing moments I saw on film in 2017 was the introduction of the The Sunken Place. That and the concepts, the very weird, real, and only slightly off-kilter world of Get Out garner it this award.

Best Adapted Screenplay

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Zak Hilditch and Stephen King 1922
Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, and Philip K. Dick Blade Runner 2049
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Greg Sestero and Tom Bisse The Disaster Artist
Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard, and Stephen King Gerald’s Game
Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, and Stephen King It

Here, and only here, is where source material matters. 2017 saw the taming of three Stephen King beasts; two that are quite a challenge to handle; as impressive as the choices that were made in Gerald’s Game were the 21st century tack of halving It and moving it from the 1950s to the 1980s are master strokes that reinvent the story keep its spirit and make it a work wholly in and of itself simultaneously.

Best Score

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Carter Burwell Wonderstruck
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Wind River
John Williams Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Benjamin Wallfisch It
Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch Blade Runner 2049

This one was tough. Through the years many musicians accumulate great scores (John Williams, Hans Zimmer), and some recent stars emerge and had multiple possibilities this year (Carter Burwell), but I couldn’t shake Benjamin Wallfisch out of two nominations, and his work on It combined all the techniques and styles that helped the other nominees get in: variety (Burwell), vocals (Cave & Ellis), Electronic music (Wallfisch/Zimmer) and classical orchestration (Williams), that and the score for It amped its effectiveness greatly.

Best Editing

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Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss Baby Driver
Jason Ballantine It
Jon Gregory Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Gregory Plotkin Get Out
Joe Walker Blade Runner 2049

Editing, among many other things, is the art of making a movie flow. Everyone can feel it if they’re attuned. In simplest terms its an anti-running time award. It clocks in at 135 minutes and is a blur; a whirlwind of emotional isolation that is what these kids are experiencing and as they join one another they strengthen. Its horror at its most relentless and the edit has much to do with it.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

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Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Again Dunkirk created some division among those who saw it, but when looking at categories I don’t look at the film overall but how it performs in its discipline. The sound of this film pounded me in my chest throughout which is the point: immersion. And in that way the film is immaculate.

Best Cinematography

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Roger A. Deakins Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte Van Hoytema Dunkirk
Ben Richardson Wind River
Edward Lachman Wonderstruck
Chung-hoon Chung It

Basically, I can get if you don’t like Blade Runner 2049, if it’s too plodding for you or what have you, but how can you not love looking at it?

Best Costume Design

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The Dark Tower
The Greatest Show
It
Wonderstruck
Victoria & Abdul

Typically what I want to see for costume design is not merely period but blending times, cultures or “worlds.” Wonderstruck did this most seamlessly.

Best Makeup

wonder_film

1922
Gerald’s Game
It
The Shape of Water
Wonder

As much as I look for different techniques and touches and aesthetics it’s hard to go against a film whose work is a constant presence.

Best Visual Effects

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Bladerunner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

It’s often difficult to make this decision because of the myriad techniques and uses for effects work. Many times it just comes down to world-building and Blade Runner 2049 created quite a mesmerizing one.

Best Soundtrack

Baby_Driver_Soundtrack

Baby Driver
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
Ingrid Goes West
The Disaster Artist
The Shape of Water

Last year marked the return of this category as in 2015 I started noting great use of source music anew. Last year with even more focus on it I easily fielded a category. This year again it was easy to find films where there were great songs and they mattered. None more so than in Baby Driver. 

Best Song

“This Is Me” Keala Settle and The Greatest Show Ensemble The Greatest Showman
“Remember Me” (Reunion) Anthony Gonzalez, Ana Ofelia Murguía Coco
“Un Poco Loco” Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal Coco
“La Llorona” Alanna Ubach, Antonio Sol Coco
“Proud Corazón” Anthony Gonzalez Coco

It was Coco pulling off a four-nomination feat in this category that pushed out cover songs from consideration. Having said that Greyson Chance’s “Hungry Eyes” for ABC’s Dirty Dancing remake is remarkable and deserves a listen if you have yet to hear it.

Updates: 9/12/2017

For a while at the start of 2017 I had a backlog of posts I had scheduled that could tide me (and you over) while I was sidetracked on other projects. As you may have noticed that backlog vanished.

For the second time ever I blew a blogathon contribution. I will attempt to make up that posting that piece by an alternate means be it here or elsewhere.

There are things in the offing and I will take a few days to keep you abreast of them. I’ll do them one at a time to not overload you.

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The first thing that bears noting is that I am still tracking new releases viewed, you can track those best on my Letterboxd list. While I haven’t posted monthly or quarterly considerations lists The BAM Awards will be happening with the previously established deadlines in tact.  The potential contenders this year (and yes It is a strong one) have been bolstered as I am now using MoviePass and I love it.

There will be more to update you on tomorrow.

 

At the Circus Blogathon: Stephen King’s It (1990)

The synoptic platitude of King’s work is that he finds “horror in the commonplace,” as has been reported ad nauseumStephen King’s It, features Pennywise, likely the horror genre’s most well-known clown, but it’s so much more than just that. Stephen King’s leviathan of a novel is a best to tackle in terms of adaptation. Even with as many devoted fans as the book has there is some controversy among Constant Readers about how necessary the first 200 pages or so are, this is where we get to learn of the last rash of killings in Derry and most importantly about the Lucky Seven, or The Losers’ Club. It being a book I’ve personally read twice tells you what I feel of its construction as a novel.

When dealing with a novel that has disagreements amongst fans about a large section you’re dealing with an unenviable adaptation task. One small example is the lack of time to establish minor characters. An example, one of the secondary villains , Henry Bowers, an acolyte of Pennywise, ends up in an asylum. The fact that he is now fearfully obedient of not just to Pennywise, but also an abusive orderly, is delicious irony, which due to lack of adequate screen time and inspiration is intimated in a ham-fisted way. Add to that the fact that it’s a network mini-series and the fact that Tommy Lee Wallace was perhaps hamstrung by the negative initial reaction to Halloween III and was creating a mini-series for Network TV that had to go for implication and expectation over exhibition and exposition.
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However, one thing that was incredibly well done was the casting of Pennywise (Tim Curry) and the pacing of his interjection into the narrative of this screen version.

It starts off quickly with a stinger wherein Pennywise’s return to the modern day is confirmed. The handling of the first kill is not unlike a scene from Fritz Lang’s M with a scream, cutaway, the involvement of a balloon, and no blood even in aftermath. It’s the furtherance into near-graphic violence with a “Standards and Practices” approach that makes this handling questionable, not to mention all the sublimated and/or omitted sexual tension of the story.

The one-two punch of Pennywise appearances in the first 13 minutes of this 180-minute film whets the appetite and allows the audience to settle in to learning about who these people are, what they went through together, how they are reuniting, and why. This separates it from the book inasmuch as it starts in the present and then goes back to the Georgie Denbrough murder which gets it started in the book. With Curry’s first extended appearance there is an unease in where and how he appears (out of nowhere and in a storm drain), not so much what he says, and then at the last second he bears his teeth and makes his approach and delivers the scare.

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There’s then a layoff and it’s not until 43 minutes in until Pennywise is heard from again, but not seen; as dead kids talk to Beverly through the pipes leading to her bathroom sink. Pennywise only speaks after her dad doesn’t notice the blood she sees all about the bathroom and is terrified by. Her father is just another blind adult. Making Pennywise a horror only kids can see and feel opens the door for a lot of the wondrous implication this story has in store.

Fifty minutes in comes the It version of the shower scene, which plays on a more common trauma for adolescent males, the post-gym class shower. Young Eddie (Adam Faraizl), who is domineered by his mother, tries to avoid it entirely. His coach at least makes him return and shower on his own. This opens the door for Pennywise to find him alone and frighten him. It also establishes a pattern of Pennywise using scare tactics specific to the kids. Here he refers to Eddie as “Wheezy” mocking his psychosomatic asthma and also “Girly-boy” referring to the homophobic bullying he’s prone to due to his size, lack of athleticism, and subservient nature.

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The lack of memory most the characters have of this summer in their childhood, now that they are adults is in many ways tied to place, and also dependent on the act of forgetting a perilous preternatural world as kids growing up tend to do. Only Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid), who stays in Derry, remembers well, and becomes the custodian of the history of Pennywise’s generationally spaced appearances (i.e. disappearance of settlers, standpipe disaster, Easter Egg Hunt, etc.). Each of these characters walks out of important moments in their respective lives on the power of a promise and a nebulous memory, which speaks to the resonance of the trauma and bond they felt.

The specificity of Pennywise’s tailored horror reveals itself when he first appears to young  Richie Tozier (Seth Green). He is a werewolf at first and then shows the clown version of himself once he has Richie terrified. Pennywise is a polymorphic horror whose most ubiquitous version plays on coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, a fear I don’t share (save for in this tale) but is universally effective because it is a façade innocence that masks malevolence. While at first he may seem to be other things, a werewolf, a black dog, the Man in the Moon, Mrs. Kersh, Mr. Keene, a disembodied voice, a sign on a marquee, a logo on the back of playing cards, grotesqueries in fortune cookies, It’s true form, and many more. The heart of the fear of clowns is the fracture of a benign reality that reveals the true tenebrous nature of reality, which is at the core of this story. The reason for Pennywise’s cyclical repetitious feedings succeeding is that no one who ever peeked behind the veil is strong enough to hold the memory or bound to readdress the monster by a promise to dear friends. The selection of a clown here combines adult and childhood fears in a cipher both can relate to.

As a child Bill says he’s not sure he ever wants to grow up, not only is that a moment of a natural adolescent struggle against Peter Pan Syndrome, but it’s a subconscious realization being verbalized. He knows growing up and old means forgetting and unwillingness to engage in a fight he might not even believe in. Getting out of sight of Derry allows six of the seven to escape the thoughts for the most part, but one never does and it’s the only reason they ever line up for a rematch.

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The last person we see receive their phone call from Mike Hanlon as an adult is Stan Uris (Richard Masur). Stan, as a kid, by his very nature was the hardest to convince of Pennywise’s reality. When he hears the news from Mike it opens up the floodgates and he is overwhelmed. The mention of It fractures his cognitive dissonance. He commits suicide, leaving his one-word note written in blood: “It.” Perhaps the key to Pennywise’s effectiveness is that he can get in their heads when he’s not there; he’s psychological parasite.

Horror in beauty and innocence also recurs as a theme in the film, perhaps more simply joyful than a clown to any child would be a balloon. Yet this is one motif used to terrify the Lucky Seven on many occasions in both the past and present. Even with the characters well into adulthood and jaded, the same triggers that worked before work now and King’s choices are just as spot-on there like Beethoven’s Für Elise evocative of beauty and melancholy being a funeral march by proxy.

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The near-defeat comes in their almost abandoning the cause. And if one never felt unease or fear looking at a clown seeing its tainting might take you to that place, but having it be whatever can scare you, is perhaps the most clever device King has even used in attacking the hierarchy of fear.

Some of the keys to this adaptation are not what it managed to shoehorn in from the book but what it, through an audiovisual medium, was able to bring to life like never before. Pennywise’s voice and mannerisms, and the variable nature of them; the use of sound edit to blend personas, are among them. Ending the film with a Pennywise laugh and a circus theme on calliope may not have been the proper note to a rushed attempt at an emotional ending but it was a decision that could only occur on film and for that it’s appreciated. The ability to crosscut through time and use L-cuts gave aid to characters attempting to reconcile their past and present, and added emotional impact where needed. Rarely were they needed as reminders of valuable information. Likewise an artist’s rendering of Pennywise’s first appearance in town in the 1700s, that image coming to life and talking to the characters may be more vivid in a reader’s imagination but it takes on a life and accuracy of time period, as well as a crudeness of art, probably not inferred by most readers.

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Stephen King has tackled many horror tropes both common and uncommon alike throughout his prolific career, few resonate like his treatment of the clown. Even considering some of the limitations this film version had to contend with it’s highly memorable.