IT (2017) Has Big (Clown) Shoes to Fill
Well, my horror-loving friends, it’s been too long! But if anything is going to bring me back from the grave, of course it’s to review IT (2017), the new adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. And don’t worry, I won’t really get into too many plot details since I know you are going to race out and see this one right away.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a pretty big fan of the story IT. The book was one of the first novels I read growing up. I even enjoyed the 4-hour, made-for-tv miniseries with its ensemble cast. So naturally, I was extremely excited and nervous when I heard there was a feature film about my beloved Pennywise in the works. Sure, having it play out on the big screen certainly has its advantages, especially compared with 1990s television special effects. But could they capture the essence of the characters and their battle with their own fears, while exponentially increasing the cases of coulrophobia across the globe? And let’s not forget Tim Curry’s iconic portrayal of Pennywise, the maniacal clown that prays on the fear of local residents every 27 years. But alas, I would go in with an open mind and an open heart, in hopes it would not get ripped out by a flesh eating clown.
Tim Curry was phenomenal as Pennywise in the original movie version. So, I was curious to see how Bill Skarsgård (Hemlock Grove) would portray him. Naturally, it’s easy to want to compare the two versions. I mean, how can you not? The major difference I noticed was Curry’s version was much more of a comedic clown, whereas Skarsgård’s version played out more like a court jester. As much as I loved Curry’s work, I also was very pleased with Skarsgård’s version. His interpretation coupled with the jerky, high speed camera work in many of his scenes really got the audience jumping. And I’m sure that’s what the film’s director Andy Muschietti (Mama) and Skarsgård were hoping.
Throughout King’s novel, he often switches back and forth among the perspectives of the main characters as children and as adults. The 1990 film did that as well. However, in 2017’s version, we only see the perspective of the children. I was a little concerned about this when I first read about it. I wasn’t sure how they could make it work, but it turned out not to be a hindrance to the storyline. We as the audience were left feeling like there’s more—and they allude to that at the very end—yet it still worked as a single story. In fact, it was a nice change from the earlier version and made it easier to follow the characters.
What I did love about this film was the depth of which they explored the characters, particularly the children who formed The Losers Club. Knowing their backstories really helped draw you into their fears—those very same fears that Pennywise feeds off. It was a blend of Stranger Things and Stand By Me. I know that seems hard to believe, but that was what my mind kept going to while watching the children portraying The Losers Club interact on-screen. You found yourself empathizing with them, rooting for them and laughing at them. I know I personally became emotionally invested in the Losers Club kids, and not just one or two, but the whole gang.
Overall, I though this film was fantastic. There was non-stop tension from the opening scene to the last. Jokes and classic one-liners were popping off the screen making the whole theater laugh. You had sincere characters you were rooting for the whole time. And who doesn’t love a giant, creepy-ass clown jumping off the screen at them?
So go out and see IT this weekend and… YOU’LL FLOAT TOO!