Published on September 11th, 2017 | by Brando Quiring0
More than two decades after the TV movie, Stephen King’s ‘It’ is back with a theatrical version that has broken the box office wide open.
In 1990, a much younger Brando sat down with his friends to watch what would become one of the first flicks to ever scare him: Stephen King’s It.
It didn’t give me coulrophobia or anything, but it did scare me out of taking balloons from strangers who live in the sewer, and for that I will forever resent Mr. King.
Naturally, when I heard that a remake of It was in the works, the cynical, sewer-dwelling balloon-guy fearing part of my brain, instead, immediately feared that Hollywood was going to take yet another of the classics from my youth, and turn it into a soulless, blood-soaked, kill parade where people just scream and swear and die and nobody cares. Much like what they did with Evil Dead. I was wrong, however, and while they did ramp up the gore and the foul language, I think the final project is at least as good and maybe even better than the flick I remember so fondly.
The story of It is a fairly simple one. It revolves around a group of kids who live in a small town in Maine that is set upon by a child-killing clown, and it is up to these kids to set things right, all the while getting important life stuff figured out. Like, what it means to be a good friend or stand up for yourself, or that sometime bullies are just too insane for words to describe. Those stories are told expertly in the 2017 version. Each of the seven kids are given time to develop in a natural way that makes you care about them and want to see them make it through. They could have done a little more with Mike, but that aside I felt that all of the characters were handled very well. They were funny when they needed to be funny, the fear was very believable, and when it was time to kick ass, I was never left incredulous. All of that was made possible because each of the kids was believable and acted in a very natural way.
As for their nemesis, the infamous Pennywise, the clown is given a modern upgrade that blows the doors off of Tim Curry’s serviceable, but ultimately campy performance. Part of this is owed to the fact that this new version is a theatrical release and not something that had to be able to be shown on television. The opening scene with Georgie immediately sets the tone for the film with the obvious manic insanity of the clown and by the outright brutality shown as he murders a little kid in the middle of the street in broad daylight.
We also see much more of Pennywise doing actual scary stuff in this version. He actually plays on the children’s fears and appears to be a real threat. No more stupid laughter in the library. Pennywise in this version is a stone cold, child-eating machine that doesn’t take any prisoners, which is great to see as the terrifying threat he poses plays very well off of the kids as they struggle to find a way to stop him. As good as the kids are, Pennywise is the real star of the picture. He is a nightmare engine that runs on children’s years and severed limbs and will have you crapping your pants every time you go downstairs to switch the laundry.
Overall this remake of It shattered my expectations and really shows of how great a modern retread of an old classic can be. I really hope that they don’t drop the ball with the next one.