After months of creepy teaser images, trailers, TV spots and viral marketing techniques
exploiting America’s rampant coulrophobia (fear of clowns), the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s
“IT” is finally here.
Based on the classic 1986 book by King, “IT” tells the story of a small town in Maine menaced
by an evil clown that only children can see. The story follows seven kids in particular, “The
Loser’s Club,” who all band together to defeat the sadistic circus clown named Pennywise.
This film had big shoes to fill as it not only had to adapt to a dense thousand plus page
book but it also had to top the 1990 television adaptation starring the legendary Tim Curry as
Pennywise. There are two big questions on everyone’s mind: did the film live up to the hype, and did it surpass the original? The answer to both is an emphatic yes. This movie lived up to the hype and left me satisfied with few complaints.
The story of “IT” hinges on two key elements. The first is the believability of the child actor’s performances as the members of “The Losers Club.” If the audience does not connect with these characters, there is no emotional investment when the horror begins. The casting director for the film found seven incredibly talented young actors to portray the club, some notable members being Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff and Finn Wolfhard, all of whom were extremely likable, sympathetic and consistently funny. The film contained many one liners and scene stealing jokes, especially from Wolfhard as the character Richie, that made my theater audience break into laughter.
Nevertheless, heroes are only as good as their villain, so it’s time to discuss the second key element and the selling point of this film—Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Many people told me stories of having nightmares after reading “IT,” or watching the television
movie and being scarred for life by Tim Curry’s legendary performance, so obviously Bill Skarsgård had a lot to live up to. It gives me great pleasure to say Skarsgård did an amazing job, taking the role beyond expectations. From his first scene peeking up from the sewers during
a rainy day to hunt down “The Loser’s Club,” Skarsgård brought a sick sense of humor, sadism
and a pure nightmare inducing cadence to the role, elevated by some amazing makeup and top
notch production design. The film also has a great mix of music from the 1980’s, set to
an original score of haunting music tracks which majorly intensify the scares in the film.
Unfortunately, some of these scares end up being some of the few flaws the movie has. I’d like
to clarify that “IT” is a bloody, disturbing, gleefully gory film which does not hold back, however
that does not mean that all of the scares hit the bullseye. There is a fair amount of computer-
generated imagery in the film. When they work, they definitely succeed at being effectively
creepy. Nevertheless, there are other times when the imagery felt a bit too cartoonish to be
taken seriously, and certain scenes really take you out of the film.
Furthermore, the film included some stock characters, such as bully Henry Bowers,
played by Nicholas Hamilton, and his gang. Despite Hamilton trying his hardest to play a
repressed teenage lunatic, as well as serving a definite purpose in the story, the time constraints of the film prevented his character from being fully developed. This was a flaw that, sadly, made many of the films characters suffer.
Overall, the “IT” remake is a joyously gory, gleefully sadistic piece of horror cinema and one of
the few horror remakes that actually surpass the original. I highly recommend getting out to the
theaters and joining in on the “IT” mania that is sweeping the film industry. But fair warning if you
do see it, “You’ll float too. You’ll float too. You’ll float too!”