With movies such as Happy Death Day, Jigsaw, and even Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween coming out in October, it can be easy for a Halloween fan to get hyped up as the countdown towards candy, jump scares, and horror films begins. However, while Halloween may be the most popular time of the year to enjoy such festivities, it most certainly doesn’t have to be the month of October to enjoy a horror film. One of the most talked about films coming about this year was It, a remake of the 1990 original miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. I’ll be upfront and admit that I never made it through the original miniseries in its entirety. The scene in which Pennywise the clown emerges from the shower drain in front of a terrified Eddie was a little too much for my younger self to handle. I never was able to rewatch it after that. When news hit that It was being remade, I decided to start fresh and once again associate with this franchise. It is currently still in theaters, so if you haven’t seen the movies or read King’s novel and wish to view it for yourself, just a rather obvious note: there will be spoilers ahead.
For director Andrés Muschietti, it would appear that readapting an already beloved horror film such as Stephen King’s It into something original and new would be incredibly daunting. There may be some highs and some lows in regards to how Muschietti implements his vision to recreate the story, but all in all, It was incredibly wholesome as a horror film and made for a well-received reintroduction to the universe of killer clowns for me.
One aspect that separates this film from its predecessor is the decision made to focus entirely on the first half of the novel: the “childhood” portion of It. King’s novel and the original miniseries included both the childhood and adulthood portions; while it was good for the completion of the story, it was a little too much story to include in one novel and a two episode miniseries. With the decision to remain in the adolescent lives of the children embarking on the journey to face It, or Pennywise the Clown as he is commonly featured, viewers are able to witness further backstory and connect with the characters in a way that may have proven difficult in the miniseries.
The portrayal of Pennywise the Clown was another difference that caught my eye. Tim Curry had originally acted out the role of Pennywise in the miniseries, while Bill Skarsgård played him in the remake. Skarsgård’s introduction as Pennywise during the famous “Georgie losing his boat down the sewer drain” scene was horrifying. While Tim Curry portrayed him as a much more jovial character, painted and dressed in attire identical to that of a clown any child would come across, Skarsgård’s rendition was incredibly sinister with his twisted and dark smile, and his sharp, narrow eyes hidden by the shadows of his dwellings.
While Pennywise is the popular form in which viewers connect to when thinking of It, the film does an excellent job in diving into a topic that King famously brings up in his novel: what humans fear. Pennywise is constantly shifting throughout the film, adapting to the deeply rooted fears of each child he comes across, to the point of frightening not only them, but those in the audience who share the same fear. However, while Muschietti did a great job in displaying this theme of human fear and the reality of its manifestation in children, that’s really where the scares ended for me. Pennywise is obviously the villain of the story, but by the time the jump scares involving him reached the double-digits, he had lost his novelty.
Also, while this film is steadfastly a horror film, it is punctuated by the children’s juvenile humor that, while realistic to the portrayal of adolescent schoolboys (having a little brother myself, I can testify to this), adds a bit of ridicule in situations where it may not be appropriate. Rotten Tomatoes regards It with an 85% rating and I feel that this is an accurate portrayal. There was definite room for improvement, but overall, the remake of It was well-done and displayed in a fashion true to the form of King’s novel.