To say that “It” was one of my most anticipated movies of the year would be an understatement. I was counting the days for it to be shown and even made sure to re-watch the 1990 two-part miniseries before I watched the remake. After seeing the trailers, and posters, I must say that the hype is well deserved. “It” truly introduces a new brand of horror to a new generation.
Synopsis: Based on one of Stephen King’s most successful novels, It revolves around the small town of Derry, Maine where multiple children and adults disappear for an unknown reason every 27 years. As a group of kids who call themselves The Losers Club tries to discover the mystery behind the missing kids, they discover the existence of Pennywise, the dancing clown, an evil demon who assumes the form of a clown and devours on the town children’s fears and their flesh.
I haven’t read Stephen King’s It and only know about it as an integral part of pop culture in the 90s because of its miniseries adaptation which had Tim Curry play the role of the iconic Pennywise the Clown. While Tim’s version of the demon clown caused plenty of nightmares in the 90s, Bill Skarsgard ups the game and delivers terror in a whole new level in the film’s 2017 reboot.
Leading up to the film’s release, Skarsgard said that he tried to have a different approach to his version of Pennywise. His effort in understanding the character really paid off. 2017 Pennywise seemed darker and scarier because of the way he engaged his victims before pouncing on them. There was an attempt to lull them into a false sense of security (as with Georgie) and the rest that brought to mind the term “playing with your food.” He seemed to take pleasure in scaring the kids to death before making his move, making this version of the clown more terrifying. Looking at the scenes, there was a genuine sense of mischief and evil in the updated Pennywise and audiences can see it in the gleam in his eyes. This was truly impressive for Bill Skarsgard’s first breakout role.
I liked how Mama director Andy Muschietti made no bones about showing what Pennywise does to his victims. While the 1990 miniseries implied what Pennywise does to the kids, this updated version wasted no time and showed within the first five minutes, what evil the clown was capable off, making a statement that he meant business. I also liked his “visits” to the Losers’ Club kids was much more consistent so when it came time for them to discuss what they saw, it wasn’t awkward or off. Towards the end, I appreciated how the film was able to connect “They all float” to what actually happened to the missing kids of Derry. The phrase was mentioned a ton of times in the original but there was really no scene that actually delivered on the catchphrase. There were also references to clowns and circuses towards the ending and it was both creepy and entertaining.
I liked the ensemble performance of The Losers Club and how naturally their friendship was laid out and developed, even their own troubles that made them connect with each other. There were those that shined more than the others. My particular favorites were Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) , Bev (Sophia Lillis) and Richie (excellently played by Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard). The original Richie was basically in the series as a secondary character and comic relief but the updated version really gave the wisecracking character a bigger role to play. His scenes were some of the best because he just wouldn’t shut up but when it came time to deal with the demon, he was really one of the bravest.
Another main draw was the brewing love triangle between Bill, Bev and Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor). The original Bill was a good character but the updated version had more of a backbone. He never technically asked his friends to endanger their lives for him but his goal was clear from the beginning — to end “It”. He also really had that unique aura that made him a good leader of The Losers’ Club. At times I felt bad for Ben, because Bev seemed to like Bill more but Billy truly deserved her affections. Because of this storyline, the film conveyed a sense of whimsy and normalcy amid the chaos of prepping for a showdown with a demon clown.
I liked how Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) was portrayed in the film too. This version of Eddie was just as brave as his original counterpart and had great banter with Richie. Their rapid fire repartee made the film so youthful and carefree.
I think what made this film really great was the fact that the kids worked together, as friends and as a team in facing off an evil demon. It made their attempt to defeat him more feasible. And it was really a sight to behold. The set up for the sequel was not too shabby and didn’t seem forced. I’m pretty excited to see the adult version of The Losers’ Club.
Most of the film’s success, for me, lies in the casting. The team made sure to understand the characters before adding actors to the roster. As a matter of fact, almost none of these actors have even starred in major roles before this remake. It was definitely a major risk. Because the team completely understood what it wanted to do from the beginning with the great script from Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, it became free to explore its possibilities and in the end delivered on the fans’ high expectations — even more.
All in all, “It’s” strong following was both a blessing and a curse. “It” was faced with a ton of possible landmines for failure because of fans’ pre-set expectations. But it stuck with its game plan and it paid off. Beep beep.