by Monica Hayes
After a twenty-seven year wait, Stephen King’s IT is no longer a made for TV movie and has finally made it to the big screen. YES!!!! Director Andy Muschietti’s remake of IT and its famous Pennywise, the dancing clown, are here to terrorize a new generation of horror fans.
It’s a gloomy rainy day in 1988 in Derry, Maine, and the torrential downpour inspired Bill (Jaden Lieberher) to make his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) a paper sail boat. He had just finished putting the final touches to the S. S. Georgie, and it was time for its maiden voyage. Georgie goes out into the rain to sail his boat alone because of Bill is sick. All is well until the rain gets the better of the S.S. Georgie and sends it straight down the sewer drain. As he desperately tries to retrieve his boat, the mysterious clown Pennywise (Bill Skargård), appears and tries to entice Georgie to join him at the circus. When Georgie tells him that his brother will kill him if he loses his boat, an evil grin shines across the clown’s face, and what happens next is nothing short of a bloody horrific scene not seen in the TV movie.
Eight months later, Bill, Ben, (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Richie (Finn Wolfhand), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) Beverly (Sophia Lillis) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) who make up the “Losers” club are slowly being introduced and coming together. Unbeknownst to them, the one thing they have in common, other than Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and his crew bullying them, is Pennywise. Each of them explained that they had individually seen a mysterious creepy clown lurking around and bringing their inner-most fears to life, they let out a collective sigh, because that meant none of them was totally crazy.
The Losers begin to try to find out exactly who It is and why all of a sudden it’s in their dreams and creating illusions that they can only see. Ben, who spent a lot of his time in the library, explains the history of Derry, and the historic and catastrophic events leading to mass deaths and disappearances of the children. Each event had taken place at 27-year intervals and it has been exactly 27 years since the last major event. Armed with this information, and their knowledge of the Derry sewer system, they come up with a location of where It may be hiding. Without giving the whole story away, (if you read the book or saw the 1990 TV movie you already know) they band together to destroy It once and for all.
IT has a lot of differences between the TV movie and the remake. The first difference is the blood and gore. Due to network limitations and censoring in 1990’s, the writers wrote just enough gore, blood and scary content to maintain a TV-14 rating. This earlier version was aesthetically bad and a major disappointment given the nature in which the book was written. However, in the remake, King’s vision of Pennywise, blood, gore, the jumps, bumps etc. are right on par with the movie’s R-rating.
Second, is Pennywise himself. In the 1990 version, Tim Curry was tapped to play the sinister clown and did so with the perfect mix of humor and horror. There was only one Pennywise, and Curry was IT! So when new comer Skargård was tapped to play the clown in the remake, eyebrows were raised and questions, whether he could pull off such an iconic horror character, began to swirl. However, the skepticism is no longer the case. Skargård’s version of Pennywise is darker, scarier, and more sinister. His performance is truly the stuff that will make any normal person develop a serious case of Coulrophobia.
Finally, although this is a minor difference, significant enough to affect the overall look of Pennywise, is his costume. This subtle change gives a new blood-curdling perspective not seen before. Curry’s costume displayed a typical colorful clown suit with huge colorful puffy balls, a multi-colored frilly collar, a bright red nose and whispery red hair as seen at the circus and carnivals. In contrast, Skargård’s version is a muted gray and white Victorian clown costume with high pants, small red puffy balls, and high neck frilly collar. What really sets the two apart is the face paint. Skarsgard’s face paint is more menacing and malevolent, to go with his huge bulbous head and glowing eyes.
Like another coming of age novel by Stephen King (The Body, later made into Stand by Me), IT has a young group of motley kids bonded together by for one common cause: defeat the evil that is attacking them. This young cast had great chemistry and seemed to effortlessly work together. The typical teenage “yo mama” jokes, the first crush, riding bikes, swimming, and the comradery to band together against the bullies was a joy to watch.
Muschietti’s last attempt at making people jump out of their seats was with Mama, which fell flat on its face. So it was a must to make Stephen King’s IT remake correctly. The problem with remakes is that the newer versions are usually far less superior and often come off rushed, while not giving the required attention to detail to the story, each character etc. Not true here. Muschietti did an excellent job of meticulously fleshing out as much detail from the book as well as adding his own inspiration to bring the audience into 1989 Derry, Maine. He even threw in a couple of Easter eggs.
This is what fans of IT have waited 27 years to see. IT has finally made it to the big screen and it was done correctly! Stay tuned for Chapter 2