Pennywise The Clown is back to scare a whole new generation.
It’s been 27 years and IT, based on Stephen King’s legendary horror novel of the same name, is once again ready to return and we should all be very scared.
Those of a certain generation might remember the 1990’s IT TV movie starring Tim Curry but for those that don’t here’s the basis of the movie.
In the 2017 iteration of the story, we get a stripped back telling of the King’s original story.
Taking place in the town of Derry, Maine the home of many of King’s iconic works. Every 27 years Derry is plagued by the unexplained mass disappearance of the children of the town. It soon becomes evident that Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård) AKA IT is to blame.
Once again the story follows a group of youngsters as they each separately encounter Pennywise in IT’s different guises. The group itself, led by Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is a group of diverse individuals with only two things in common – loyalty to each other.. oh, and they’re all “losers”. Hence, The Loser moniker that the group affectionately adopt.
Soon the losers realise that they have each encountered the demonic clown is some form or other. Unbeknownst to them, these encounters are something that Pennywise thrives on- instilling a sense of fear in his potential victims. This fear in everyone he comes in contact with is what sustains him.
As the stakes increase, with each frightening encounter, the losers band together to take on whatever Pennywise is while learning the truth of Derry. But can school children defeat something as terrifying as the unknown, IT?
For a rated R horror film, IT’s very impressive. The decision, by screenwriter and director Andy Mushietti, to keep the film to the children’s narrative but update it to the 1980’s, was a great idea.
Some might say that IT was a play at creating a franchise but the losers initial encounter with IT was always going to be the creepiest. Instead of rushing through both eras covered in the source material, we get to really ratcheted up the tension in each era with a deliberate pace. Plus it helps create a desire to see what happens with the losers. Thus I guess it might be the start of a franchise.
Another reason for the success of this 2017 iteration of IT is the nostalgia associated with the previous 1990’s iteration. Fans of that version and the source material will definitely get a kick out of this version.
This is helped along by a kind of “Stranger Things” vibe that people probably picked up from the IT trailers. One which is not so subtly encouraged by Finn Wolfhard who plays Will on the Netflix show. His Richie Tozier provides an unexpected comic relief and moments of mirth. Watch out for his fantastically inappropriate comments throughout the movie.
It also helps that IT is not an overly complicated story. Director Andy Mushietti doesn’t try too hard to recreate the horror genre yet still manages to bring something new to the genre. Most importantly he has made a coherent movie because lack of coherency is a problem that horror movies have had in the past.
Think about it, how many horror movies have you sat through where one minute you’re looking at a happy family and one jump scare later there’s demons swinging from light fixtures and babies cursing at their parents in Latin.
IT is a through back to old-school horror movies where jump scares are earned and fear is layered throughout the piece. Since mentioning the jump scares it’s worth saying that the ones provided by Pennywise are top-notch. Bill Skarsgård is great in the role and doesn’t simply rehash what Tim Curry did before him.
From someone that’s not a big horror movie fan, IT is a great horror movie. A great adaptation of a classic movie for current times.