Will this take on a Stephen King classic leave you “It” scared?

I had mixed emotions about going into this review of the freshly remade It. After watching It though, I was more surprised than anything.

Pennywise surfacing from the water in the flooded basement

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I’ve made it perfectly clear how I feel about remakes and the re-hashing of old material in the past and while I wouldn’t say I’ve softened my stance I’m just getting too fuckin old to be bitter about it.

I actually think that remaking movies is testament to the fact that I—being born in the mid 70s and growing up in the 80s and 90s—have been truly blessed to be able enjoy a childhood rich in popular culture that has set a benchmark which serves as the gold standard for entertainment today. That might be a bit arrogant though.But, when it comes to remakes horror would be the number one genre to be thrown into to sausage factory. The list is huge, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Dawn of The Dead, Psycho, The Haunting, The Fog, The Amityville Horror, Pirahna, The Wicker Man, The Omen, The Hills Have Eyes… The list goes on and on—and ninety percent of the time none of these remakes have bested the originals.

I don’t want much new horror these days because I haven’t really seen anything that would keep me even remotely interested. The market seems saturated with the same tired torture porn, gore and jump scares taking the place of good old story telling, which is why I guess we see the older, classic movies being remade.

When I found out they were doing a remake of Stephen King’s IT, I was pretty indifferent. Although I have to say—aside from Tim Curry’s slightly above average showing as Pennywise in the original TV mini series—I thought the version of IT from 1990 was pretty shit and certainly not a film I’d go out of my way to see again.

So I guess there was the opportunity to improve on the original. But I was pretty indifferent about revisiting a story when I already knew what was going to happen.

The story

To give you a quick overview of the story IT is about a creature fronting as Pennywise the clown, who is responsible for the kids in the town disappearing. Pennywise is the epitome of their greatest fears brought to life with the sole purpose of ending theirs. A group of outcast kids come together to solve the mystery of the missing kids and confront the evil clown that has been terrorising them.

Now I don’t know how familiar you are with Stephen Kings work but early in his career he penned a short story that ended up in his Different Seasons book called ‘The Body’. It was about a group of young boys who head out into the woods to find the body of a young boy who’d gone missing. That story would later be made into one ofynall time favourite movies called ‘Stand by Me’. That story would later serve as the template for the gang of kids in the book that feature in IT. And Kt was pretty obvious to me from the onset that Stand by Me had a huge influence over this movie.

The losers club in the garage watching slides.

The cast

The new IT is a vast improvement on that which has gone before, and this is thanks largely to some fantastic casting and some top notch directing at the hands of Andy Mushietti. Where previously Tim Curry stole the show from a mediocre cast, Bill Skarsgard’s version of Pennywise is far more sinister and refined, he’s not trotting all over the screen camping it up, and that gives the kids more opportunity to let their characters occupy the screen. And the kids are what really make this film sing, particularly, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Jaeden Leibherer as Bill, and Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things as Ritchie.

It’s almost unfair to single those guys out because all of them are just so awesome and the dialogue is so spot on between them. They ooze authenticity, and I should know because I was their age at that very same point in time that the film was set and each character reminds me of some of the traits I exuded as a loser pre-teen as well as my loser club friends. I have to take exception to liking New Kids on The Block though, which is where the real horror from some people’s childhood lies. I hated that group then and I hate them just as much now, but the references to them in the film adds to that authenticity. As does the soundtrack with music by the Cult, Anvil, XTC, Young MC and the mighty Anthrax…

The good

It’s fair to pigeon hole this movie into the horror genre because it is so much more than that. It’s got adventure, suspense, action, drama and even a small amount of romance. It really is just a fantastic adaptation of a great story that has been made with a lot of love. Like most of Stephen King’s stories it’s set in Maine, in the fictional town of Derry—which King has referenced to be his version of Bangor. It’s a beautiful looking location and the way the film has been shot, by the time you get halfway through the movie you feel like you’d actually know your way around the town. I think that kind of attention to detail and great cinematography shows how much care has been taken to honour the writer’s vision. I know we’re talking about a horror film here so pun intended, the execution is spot on.

The bad

In order to really find anything remotely wrong with this movie I’m going to drop what I wouldn’t really consider a spoiler because it doesn’t have anything to do with the events of story and won’t ruin anything for you in the grand scheme of things, but some people may freak out, so you’ve been warned.

The first thing I thought was how are they going to turn what is probably one of King’s lengthiest novels—which ended up getting the mini series treatment the first time around—into a single feature film?

Well they didn’t.

As the movie went on it became painfully clear that they were going to split this across two films. And so the only negative thing I can say is I was let down by the fact that I was enjoying the story so much I’d have to wait for the sequel to wrap everything up.

The only other negative thing I really have to say about it is that it’s going to breathe life back into that stupid trend where fuckwits would dress up as scary clowns and then roam the streets in the hope of freaking people out. If you’re one of those people who think that’s cool or a good idea, do us all a favour either drink acid, catch fire or just stay home drink faygo, listen to ICP and fuck your sister.

Seriously was there ever a time where clowns were loved and adored by people?

Pennywise smiling

The verdict

If you take Stranger Things, a Nightmare on Elm Street, throw in a dash of Stand by Me mix it up real smooth and bake it to absolute perfection you get IT.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a scary movie but if you’re re wavering from seeing it because of that you’re not only a massive wuss but you’re missing out some good old fashioned storytelling that makes that trip to the cinema the experience everything it absolutely should be.

IT is definitely front runner for my movie of the year and I didn’t even see it coming. I had an absolute ball watching this film. Five out of five.


2 Comments on Will this take on a Stephen King classic leave you “It” scared?

  1. I hope to see this film next weekend. I went to see Wind River today, and that is definitely also a film well worth checking out.
    But as for IT, so far pretty much every review I have seen for this one is really positive so I honestly can’t wait to see this one. As always, great review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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