Your Recommended Derry Intake (It (2017) Review)

Isn’t it funny how sometimes the things you expect to flop sometimes show up on your doorstep with a balloon and a wax-coated paper ship and demand your attention. You’ll float too, they scream. You’ll float too.

Well dammit all to hell, if they weren’t right about this Stephen King adaptation.


It (2017)

Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgard, Nicholas Hamilton
Director: Andy Muschietti
released on blu-ray January 9, 2018
********* 9/10

IMDB: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Audience Score 85%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Andy Muschietti is an Argentine director and writer, who has now directed two feature-length films – Mama and It. With a sequel to It, titled It: Chapter Two, currently in the works for release in 2019. Muschietti first garnered attention with his short film version of Mama, enough so that Guillermo del Toro took notice and became the executive producer for the version we have today. Muschietti has also been known to collaborate with his sister Barbara Muschietti, who took on a producer role in both Maman and It.

Muschietti received the directorial role for It after the departure of Cary Fukunga from the set, and luckily for us, he never looked back.

Taken from Wikipedia and modified…

In October ’88, stuttering teenager Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) gives his seven-year-old brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), a paper sailboat, but it falls down a storm drain. As he attempts to retrieve it Georgie sees a clown (Bill Skarsgard) in the sewer, who introduces himself as “Pennywise the Dancing Clown”. The clown entices Georgie to come closer, then severs his arm and drags him into the sewer.

The following summer, Bill and friends (Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stan (Wyatt Oleff)) run afoul of bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and his gang. Bill, still haunted by Georgie’s disappearance and neglect from his grief-stricken parents, discovers that his brother’s body may have washed up in the Barrens. He recruits his friends to check it out.

“New kid” Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) learns that the town has been plagued by unexplained tragedies and child disappearances for centuries. Targeted by Bowers’ gang for being fat, he flees into the Barrens and meets Bill’s group. They find the sneaker of a missing girl, while a member of the pursuing Bowers Gang, is killed by Pennywise while searching the sewers for Ben.

Beverly (Sophia Lillis), a girl ostracized over rumors of promiscuity, also joins the group; both Bill and Ben develop feelings for her. Later, the group befriends homeschool student Mike (Chosen Jacobs) after defending him from Bowers. All the while each member of the group has encountered terrifying phenomena in various forms; these include a menacing clown, a headless boy, a fountain of blood, a diseased and rotting man, a creepy painting come to life, Mike’s parents burning alive, and a phantom Georgie.

Now calling themselves “The Losers Club”, they realize they are all being terrorized by the same entity. After an attack by Pennywise, the group ventures to a house with a well that all the towns sewers connect to, only to be separated and terrorized. Eddie breaks his arm, while Pennywise gloats to Bill about Georgie. As they regroup, Beverly impales Pennywise through the head, forcing the clown to retreat. However, after the encounter the group argues, with only Bill and Beverly resolute in fighting It.

Weeks later, after Beverly confronts her sexually abusive father, but is abducted by Pennywise. The Losers Club reassembles to rescue her. Bowers, who has killed his father after being compelled into madness by It, attacks the group. Mike fights back and pushes Bowers down the well. The Losers descend into the sewers and find It’s underground lair, where the bodies of missing children float in mid-air. Beverly, now catatonic after being exposed to It’s true form, is restored to consciousness as Ben kisses her. Pennywise attacks the group and takes Bill hostage, offering to spare the others if they let It keep Bill. After a brutal battle they defeat Pennywise and he retreats, with Bill declaring that It will starve during its hibernation.

As summer ends, Beverly informs the group of a vision she had while catatonic, where she saw them fighting the creature as adults. The Losers swear a blood oath that they will return to Derry as adults if It returns and destroy the creature once and for all. Stanley, Eddie, Richie, Mike, and Ben make their goodbyes as the group disperses. Beverly tells Bill she is leaving the next day to live with her aunt in Portland. Before she leaves, Bill reveals his feelings and they kiss.

It is an unpretentious character and this adaptation is an unpretentious film. Somehow Muschietti has taken a very dense novel and made it infinitely more digestible, and I’m hoping that he is able to book end the story the same way he started it. Or should I say It? I found it very refreshing to watch a story I loved as a teenager come to the big screen and do it better then the miniseries we all accepted for 27 years.

Pros: The acting of all of these youngsters is excellent, and the supporting adults do their part to keep the attention where it should be, on Pennywise and the Losers Club.

Cons: While the references to 1980s horror classics are strong throughout this film, and the tone of the film embraces The Goonies, Stand By Me, and other coming of age ensemble dramas, it never quite feels super scary. The stakes only raise so high. Which could be a symptom of a story told in two parts.

Runtime: 2 hours 15 minutes

Points of Interest: This was more of a fun fact for me then your average movie goer,  but this adaptation arrived almost exactly 27 years after the original was made. Much of the dialogue between the actors was improvised and Jack Dylan Grazer helped write Finn Wolfhard’s jokes. This movie currently holds the box office record for largest opening weekend for a horror film.

It could be the update from 1950s to the 1980s or the higher production value placed upon bringing Pennywise and all his iterations to life, but something about this film feels a lot more considered and genuinely authentic in it’s approach to telling the collective story of the Loser’s Club. It might have also helped that cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon helmed the camera and maintains wider view of this world then the claustrophobic one from the 1990 miniseries.

theories Summarized

In short, this movie is a highlight of 2017 film without a doubt, even if it isn’t genuinely horrifying to watch. By trading humour for scares, the story comes to life in a satisfying way – It is a very creepy adaptation and Bill Skarsgard deserves a place on the horror shelf for his rendition as the clown. Go find a copy of It and watch when you get a chance; you’ll float too.

And on a much lighter balloon… we’ve got an excellent Watch Culture video review up for your viewing pleasure! Featuring the talents of my Cross Talk co-host Chris Murphy, it’s time to dive into the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer!

Which also recently got a retread, with a couple of Netflix exclusive shows – Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. Chris unabashedly loves this movie, and I think after you hear some of his thoughts, you’ll want to check it out for yourself.


Suspended Animation (Asking Alexandria, Asking Alexandria review)

It’s evolution baby.

And if you think an old dog can’t perform new tricks, you haven’t seen what a day at home alone and the treat of steak will do as a motivating factor.

If you’re still confused what that means for this weeks Watch Culture review, maybe just ask?



Asking Alexandria – Asking Alexandria

released December 15, 2017
******* 7/10

Asking Alexandria are an English rock band, comprised of lead vocalist Danny Worsnop (returning after a short one album deparature), guitarists Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell, drummer James Cassells and bassist Sam Bettley.

Initially formed in 2006 by Ben Bruce, the band evolved into a six piece in 2008 and then adjusted their lineup one more time before their debut album in 2009 – Stand Up and Scream. Asking Alexandria released two more full length albums Reckless & Relentless (2011) and From Death to Destiny (2013), before the departure of Worsnop in January 2015. At that time Denis Stoff and the rest of the band released The Black in 2016. But Stoff didn’t last very long and left the band within the year, with Worsnop returning to lead live performances before his official return. And so we arrive at the fifth album and what a doozy it is. It’s self-titled and a very hard turn away from previous efforts, but it feels oh so fresh.

For starters, the self-titled album is much less metalcore and much more melodic hard rock in sound. When you listen to track no. 2 Into the Fire, you’ll immediately notice how they’ve dialed back on the guitars, and tried to fill that void with more electronics. Yes I ignored the track opener, which I’ll get back to in a second, because Into the Fire is the first single, and a signal that these guys have converted to full on arena rock.

Alone in a Room is a hallmark of high end production, multi layered sonics, and thoughtful lyrics, a typical hype machine to get you started with the tone of the rest of the record. Under Denver follows similar notes at the midpoint, and is a welcome pick me up.

The third and fourth songs are a bit of a wash (Hopelessly Hopeful, Where Did It Go?), with Where Did It Go? being particularly self-congratulatory… but when we get past the ego stroking, the next rack, Rise Up, is a sobering moment and way more naturally motivating to listen to.


For all of the effort to move away from their original successes, Worsnop and the rest of Asking Alexandria do make a point to nod to their past. When The Lights Come On features a lyrics form Stand Up, and Room 138‘s chorus is the same melody as the bridge from another song on that first record. On top of that, Room 138 is an excellent unofficial closer with lots of emotions packed into 3 minutes and 44 seconds.


Pros: Later tracks seem to fit the bill and redeem this tonal shift. Vultures, When the Lights Come On and Room 138 are all very enjoyable to listen to, and Under Denver will also grow on you if you give it some time.

Cons: Eve should have been a demonstration that Asking Alexandria still ‘had it,’ but the vocal work and backing instrumentals don’t stand up (pun not intended) and comes across weakly. Ironic given that it was the first song recorded. And I love combining rap and rock as much as the next guy, but Empire is hokey at best and offensive at worst.

Runtime: 47 minutes

Points of Interest: This is their first album working with producer Matt Good, a staple in the post-hardcore community. And Taylor Larson mixed the record, which is excellent, because because he played with Good in the band From First to Last for a couple of years.

It’s obvious that these guys enjoy making music together, and their creativity is alive and well, even if not all of the new songs gel well together. This is not the renewal of a sound we’ve heard before, and that’s going to upset some purists. But I really enjoyed the anthemic tone set and the risks they’ve taken to make this record, even if it doesn’t all work together perfectly.

theories Summarized

A great album to celebrate the return of Worsnop and an opportunity for them to explore a direction to take in this next chapter, deciding to self-title the album was a symbolic move and I appreciate the thought. I have a theory that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Asking Alexandria. But I won’t tell.