It (2017)

First things first…am I the only one who didn’t realise until now that the 1990 film version of Stephen King’s It was a made-for-TV miniseries?

As kids, we watched it in one sitting and it certainly didn’t feel to us like it lasted four hours. Tim Curry’s Pennywise was equal parts terrifying and engaging. We were obviously so engrossed that those four hours flew by in no time.

So to call the 2017 film version a remake is kind of inaccurate, seeing as this is the first big screen adaptation of King’s 1986 novel.

And maybe it’s simply because I’m older and much less easy to scare that the 2017 version just didn’t grab me like the 1990 effort, which we will call the ‘original’ from now on just to keep things simple.

My first problem with the new film is that there’s no way any kid is going to take the hand of a sewer-dwelling clown as horrifying as Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise as easily as little Georgie does early on in this film. I mean, this is one scary looking motherfucker. At least Tim Curry’s Pennywise looked like a dude in clown makeup. This fucking thing…ain’t nobody falling for that shit.

So right from the start, I’m having trouble buying the storyline. And the theme continues throughout, with apparently terrified children instantly getting over the fact they’ve just shat their underpants and toddling off down some dark corridor to near certain death.

Maybe the actions of the kids in the original were just as far removed from reality as the current ‘Losers Club,’ but I don’t remember it that way.

Putting that aside, It (2017) for damn sure scared at least one person in the cinema tonight. A girl sitting behind me was literally in tears at various points, sobbing at her partner that she wanted to leave. So yeah, it may just be me that didn’t find this movie particularly frightening.

Skarsgard’s creature is at its most menacing when there’s no CGI and it’s just him, his makeup, various prosthetics and the actor’s evil-as-fuck glare. One scene in an unfortunately cliche-ridden spooky house (cobwebs, squeaking rats, self-closing creaky doors, dusty piano) sees Skarsgard face-to-face with one of the young losers and, I admit, it freaked me out. Without the CGI, Pennywise could just be some mentalist in makeup – and that highly possible reality is as scary as all fuck.

Besides Skarsgard, the star of the show is undoubtedly Finn Wolfhard’s wisecracking Richie Tozier. The dick-joke obsessed kid brings comic relief throughout, even when it isn’t expected or when it might seem inappropriate. But it always brings a chuckle and Wolfhard plays the part brilliantly.

And Sophia Lillis, as Beverly Marsh, puts in a performance that will surely see her go on to lead a great career in film. It’s as accomplished a performance as I can remember from a teenager.

So if you saw the original and, like me, want to compare – you’ll go see It. You just might not talk about it for years to come like we did with the 1990 version. I’m off to grab a copy of the original and scare myself stupid all over again.

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