As children are going missing in the small down of Derry, Maine, a group of outcasts begin seeing their biggest fears come to life in front of them, including a terrifying clown. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and reimagining itself from the classic mini-series, IT proves remakes can easily make a name for themselves, improving on the old but creating an entirely new frightening, fun time.
In 1988, the town of Derry is plagued by missing children. None of whom return. After his younger brother becomes one of them, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is focused on finding out what happened. Along with his friends Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Richie (Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard) and Stan, Bill begins looking for clues as to what happened to the missing kids of Derry.
As they try to uncover the truth, they each begin to see their biggest fears materialized while being haunted by the appearance of a clown named Pennywise. They soon discover that several other kids in the town have also been visited by the menacing monster. So they team up with fellow outcasts Ben, Beverly, and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) to stop IT.
There is so much to be said about all the positives and improvements with this film. From the start, the tone of the film establishes itself as a much darker version than its previous incarnation. And fans of the book will be happy to see a major scene play out without censorship of network television. Truly, there hasn’t been an adaptation that embodies all aspects of the source material, without any limitations, better than this film. This R-rated version allows the story to be told to its truest degree, and the book is honored in every way possible.
Which is why pacing is key in this film. With a runtime of nearly 2.5 hours, the film doesn’t feel like it. King’s novel is a big one, and cutting it down does a disservice. This film felt like they really grasped timing and what to include and didn’t attempt to limit themselves. It finds itself riding the wave of a structureless story, and I mean that in the best way possible. The scares are scattered about, from start to finish, and there are a lot of big moments that would otherwise be reserved to the third act. But not with this film.
Playing with the pace and typical structure of film gave this movie opportunity for surprise. Which only aids in the success of scares. I’ve noticed lately in horror where it seems a lot of directors and writers are slightly shying away from jump scares, focusing more on making the audience uncomfortable. It’s not to say there were none in this film, because there are a few amazing ones, but the truly traumatic events were ones of subtlety. Leaving the viewer with a sense of unease, sinking slowly into their seat. Which is that lingering thrill you want out of a horror movie.
But frights aren’t the only highlights in this film. The young cast that makes up the Losers’ Club is without a doubt the best part of the entire movie. Such amazing talent, it’s almost a shame they can’t play the adult versions of their characters. Finn Wolfhard excels at being the foul-mouthed member of the group, cracking jokes and delivering some classic lines like it’s second nature. The balance of comedy and horror is brilliant. Really, every kid had a great moment that will leave you laughing hysterically and giving you a break from all the terror for a minute. But just a minute.
And not to be forgotten about, is Bill Skarsgård. His portrayal of Pennywise is something of nightmares. Not only is the costume design elevating this character, but Skarsgård disappears into the persona, with just the most simplest of looks enough to tingle your spine. He truly gave the character a uniqueness that doesn’t at all remind you of the previous version, nor leave you comparing the two. It’s an entirely new beast.
Whenever a remake comes to fruition, there is a lot of push back. Although the 1990 mini-series starring the beloved Tim Curry is forever in our hearts, this film won’t leave you feeling as though you can’t enjoy both. There is much to be said about how this film improved on things that were just not possible with the constraints of the time. But I truly feel this is one of those rare times when fans of the old can like the new, and likewise, those who hated the old can like the new.
IT is terrorizing theaters now!