IT (2017) (92)
Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Barbara Muschietti
New Line Cinema
Warner Bros. Pictures
September 5, 2017
IT is a supernatural horror film from 2017. Directed by Andy Muschietti and written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman. This film is an epic adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 classic novel of the same name. This is also a remake of the television mini-series that had broadcast twenty-seven years ago in 1990. This version is much more visceral and diabolical. It's also better quality and much tighter direction. We focus on the kids in Derry, instead of an interlaced story of them as kids and adults.
The town of Derry, Maine has a problem with the local kids disappearing. An evil force, going by Pennywise the Dancing Clown, has been abducting kids and murdering them in vicious fashion. In a place known as 'The Barrens', a group of seven local pre-teens known as the Losers Club, come together as friends to put a stop to that evil force, saving their lives and the lives of those in Derry.
There is a clear bit of influence from recent productions like the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things. You can see it in the child actors. They play such a huge part in what makes this movie so good. That is due to the Duffer Brothers being considered to direct. They were passed over.
The movie had been in production since 2009. Originally the studios had floated Mark Rylance, Ben Mendelsohn, Kirk Acevedo, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving and Tilda Swinton to play Pennywise. But they ended up going with Bill Skarsgård, who did an amazing job. Bill Skarsgård is stunning. His Pennywise is much more vicious and shocking than the original. He can change his appearance into various monsters and beings. But his clown form is downright disturbing. In the 1990 mini-series, Pennywise was based on child favorite clowns like Ronald McDonald and Bozo. The Skarsgård version is far more sinister. His Pennywise appears to be based on more of a Victorian-era porcelain doll with odd and inhuman proportions. The scariest scene includes Pennywise unfolding himself from a decaying refrigerator in an abandoned house.
It’s unfair to compare Bill Skarsgård to Tim Curry though. Both had portrayed Pennywise so well. Each one has their own best qualities. It’s kind of like comparing Heath Ledger’s Joker to that of Jack Nicholson’s version. Both were amazing, and both worked for their own feature. The 2017 release had a bigger budget and more confidence from the studio. Bill Skarsgård has said frequently he is a fan of Tim Curry’s version and he did not want to emulate that, saying he couldn’t "do Tim Curry anywhere near as well as Curry himself did.”
The opening scene with Georgie meeting Pennywise is terrifying. A great showcase of just what this picture had to deliver. Pennywise is atrocious. I did not expect to see Georgie Denbrough turn out the way he did. That was insane. It might have been one of the best intros to a horror movie of all time. The Losers Club is amazing. All the child actors hit their marks. I love that the creators allowed this production to really let the kids cut loose. It adds so much more realism when kids get to act and sound like kids. Not just having fun, but also cursing like sailors when adults aren’t around. I spoke about that in my Sleepaway Camp review. Finn Wolfhard turns in the best performance. His loudmouthed Richie Tozier is hilarious. The mama jokes are spot on. I had friends just like that in school. They have an amazing dynamic that is brought out through some good writing. Their epic rock fight with Henry Bowers’ gang was hardcore.
There is no mistaking that this movie is set in the eighties. Sometimes, I feel that they loved rubbing it in your face. The references, music and setting are draped in nothing but pop culture from ‘88 - ‘89. IT is so filled with references that it starts to become a bit of a joke. Not bad enough to be terrible. But it’s noticeable. I didn’t hate it. The New Kids on the Block references were great.
I went and watched this movie on its opening weekend and was blown away by how good it was. The theater was crowded. At work, people had said that some theaters had already sold out of tickets. IT had the biggest opening weekend for a horror flick, grossing $123,403,419 beating out Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) and eventually beating The Exorcist (1973). I recommend this movie and cannot wait for the next chapter. This is an amazing King adaptation and horror movie in general. It was scary. Skarsgård is iconic and his Pennywise will go down in history as being one of the most frightening villains of all time.
2017 is a huge year for Stephen King properties. There are flops like The Mist television show and The Dark Tower. Both released earlier this year. But we also have Mr. Mercedes, Gerald’s Game and the upcoming Castle Rock. These all seem to tie together into a big Stephen King universe. It is acknowledged that Pennywise is an elder god and might have some connection to the characters Randall Flagg and The Crimson King from The Dark Tower and The Stand, respectively.