Director: Andy Muschietti
Writer(s): Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman
Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard and Bill Skarsgard
Something is seriously wrong in the town of Derry. Children often go missing never to be heard from again. When Georgie, disappears without a trace, his brother Bill unwittingly starts a quest that will change the town for years to come. He is joined on his mission by a group of friends known affectionately as the “Losers Club”. Together, they uncover the towns creepy past and vow to save Derry from a supernatural killer disguised as a menacing clown.
Director Andy Muschietti and the team of writers on this project stayed true to the novel for this revamp, and like the proverbial carrot, they dangled their masterpiece in the face of starving masses. For at least a year the media campaign for this film kept fans and the fearful at rapt attention waiting to see this film. It is worth the wait. Unlike the original, this version dives head first into the true horror of Derry. Musheietti takes you into the town exposing all the oddities and frightening day to day life. You see early on how oblivious the adults in the town are. In a major scene Ben, one of the “losers”, is being carved into by the town bully. Not only does no one step in to help, a car load of adults rolls casually in full view offering no assistance leaving only the telltale red balloon in their wake.
In addition to Muschietti’s fresh eye, the cast is infinitely better this time around. Bill Skarsgard is a terrifying Pennywise. His creepy movements and sneer will haunt you well into old age. He was literally born to play this part. He came into the world the same year as the original release and has been patiently waiting for this moment. Tim Curry was the original Pennywise and gave the framework for the deadly clown but Skarsgard made it his own and introduces a new audience to a healthy fear of clowns. Though he may have taken a few notes on Curry’s portrayal, the trademark sneer and menacing glare is all his own and will awaken your slight fear of clowns into a full blown phobia. The updated special effects and exponentially improved script make this a brand new film with very few parallels to the original. In one of the scariest scenes, the losers club sees Pennywise for the first time as a group, and he morphs from a photograph into a 10 foot manifestation of pure fear. That image will stay with you long after the film ends, and is representative of Muschietti’s eye for fearsome imagery. Like most Stephen King novels it isn’t just about the monster. The film features an ensemble cast of teenagers and preteens doing an astounding job of portraying the fictional characters from King’s best seller. Among the fresh faces of the cast is “Stranger Things”, star Finn Wolfhard who portrays foul mouth, Richie Tozier. His character provides some of the best one liners, giving the audience a light reprieve from the onslaught of scary. You will find yourself shouting at the screen, laughing and inevitably rooting for these “losers” from the very start. There is a noticeable camaraderie with the cast that is fun to witness. The characters are fully developed and inspire an empathy that did not exist with the first film.
In anticipation of watching this new adaptation, of IT, we revisited the original and found ourselves unimpressed. Back in 1990 a group of execs and writers got together and unleashed Stephen King’s novel It, as a 3.5 hour, two night, pile of garbage. we say this as eighties babies, who were terrified by this lackluster TV movie. The sad truth is, we honestly didn’t know it was bad. For its time it was exciting and scary. We all ran around terrorizing each other, and quoting Pennywise. Thanks in part to the advancements in movie magic, I can see all the glaring missteps with the beloved miniseries. For one, they tried to condense the entire book into one movie, which cut out many of the subtle nuances needed to truly tell the story. This ultimately resulted in massive holes in the story and missing details, like why Billy needed to build a dam. Thankfully the new version is in no rush. The new movie only tells the story of the first battle with Pennywise, which means we could possibly see a sequel (fingers crossed!). Though Tim Curry’s Pennywise is the main reason many of us would never hire a clown, the first film was bad. It neglected to tell the creepy frightening tale of Derry Maine’s clown problem. It was rushed and in the process, the story was mangled and ruined. The end result was a steaming pile of nonsense. If you saw the original as a youngster, I implore you to watch it again in all its campy foolishness and rushed story telling. See It, the mini series and cure yourself of an irrational fear of greasepaint. Watch and laugh at the Jim Henson, animatronic reject they used in the end. Have a good long howl at the giant cellphone John Ritter uses and the cheesy music in every scene. After you are unafraid, laughing uncontrollably and thoroughly ashamed at your silliness, see the new version and treat yourself to a legitimate source of nightmares. The new IT is everything the original wasn’t and more than worthy of a bad night’s sleep. You will forget you ever even saw the original. In summation, pull on your grown up drawers get to the theater this weekend and slip into something truly creepy.
It debuts in theaters this Friday, September 8th! Be afraid, be very afraid!!!