By Salena Moran & Evan Penrod | Staff Writers
Exactly 27 years from the release of the original TV miniseries, Stephen King’s IT re-emerges from the sewer grates to haunt audiences in a dark, twisted and sometimes heartfelt movie remake.
In the small town of Derry, Maine, in the summer of 1989, a group of seven unlikely friends, the self-proclaimed Loser’s Club, find a mutual bond over a common bully and their traumatic home lives. When the group witnesses the flesh-hungry clown Pennywise shapeshift into their greatest fears, the gang endeavors to stick together as terror tries to drive them apart. Through the horrifying and gory twists and turns, the adults appear oblivious as the kids take it upon themselves to stand up to It once and for all.
This movie remake plot closely resembles part one of the TV miniseries, as it possesses the scare and carnage that horror audiences anticipate. However, the terror and bloodshed in the 2017 movie more suitably fits the contents and intentions within King’s original book. This becomes evident in the opening scene where one of the characters is lured to the sewer grate in a frightfully shocking and bloody encounter. This sets the stage for what the rest of the movie entails.
This film did a lot in terms of improving on the faults of the original adaptation. Some of the fear tactics were quite inventive and did not solely commit to jump-scares. Unlike many other modern horror films where most tension resides in waiting for the next bloody surprise, the IT remake tries to build an atmosphere. One of the best scenes of the movie takes this type of fright to an entirely new level when the kids are viewing a projector in the garage. The excellent camera work and special effects create suspense with flashing lights, quick movements and heart-pounding thrills. Some scares in this film are genuinely terrifying, and they hit all the right keys with timing and gravity.
With regard to the movie’s actors, the kids in the film create their own personalities without entirely copying the TV miniseries. It makes a difference to see a new group of individuals put their own spin on characters that have already premiered on screen.
Unfortunately, the kids’ storylines were not given as much time to develop as in the three-hour-and-15-minute miniseries. For instance, audiences failed to see flashbacks or glimpses into certain aspects of their home lives, environments and interaction with other citizens of the town. This movie just establishes everything in a very linear fashion, creating no real empathy for the characters — except that one would want them to survive.
Another strong point includes the design of Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård). The movie masterfully updated the clown’s costume and persona in a more frightening manner than in Tim Curry’s miniseries portrayal. (However, it is hard to even compare him to the beloved Tim Curry.) Skarsgård’s Pennywise primarily wears white and red, while Curry’s costume had vibrant yellows, purples and blues, making him seem friendlier. There is evidently more to be feared with this version of Pennywise because a horror movie is only as strong as its villain.
Even though this movie excelled in many ways, there were a couple flaws. One of the main faults included a never ending wave of scares and juvenile humor. Audiences almost needed a break, just enough to process what happened and to become more invested in the atmosphere without diminishing the horror.
Although most of the scares are on par toward the end, the movie tends to overuse the jump scare tactic. Yes, Pennywise is purely a creature of nightmares, but his presence is very predictable. For instance, Pennywise’s appearances feature an anticipated jump scare, charging at the kids and then disappearing. When looking at the bare bones of the plot, almost all of the fear-inducing scenes designed using this formula became really stale, really fast.
IT, overall, is intended to induce fear and haunt even the most brave viewers. The film found an adequate balance between content from the original miniseries and new material for modern audiences seeking a fright. No matter how this movie may fare at the box office, just remember, “We all float down here.”