Clowns are meant to bring children joy with their playful antics and joyous demeanor, but Pennywise does nothing but the complete opposite in the modern-day retelling of Stephen King’s It.
Originally released in 1986 and adapted into a TV miniseries that aired in 1990, this 2017 remake will have you split down the middle. A great tale more similar to Stranger Things than the original, the scares don’t float the way they used to.
It tells the story of a supernatural being that terrorizes the children of Derry, Maine. Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård) who is the friendly, dancing clown exploits his victims deepest, darkest fear to lure them into his inescapable death trap. One could say Pennywise has some similarities to Freddy Krueger, since he’s more of a comical killer and feeds off the fears of children. It was both interesting and entertaining to watch how the clown used his supernatural powers to mold and create an illusion only his victim can see. He can retrieve the fear that they’re most afraid of and use it to his advantage, which can be seen as both disturbing and troubling.
There were some heart-pounding, scary moments that would make the watcher jump in their seat and gasp in surprise, IT fails to captivate the same way as the original.For example, when the kids were in a garage, watching a camera reel and Pennywise appeared on the projector- that was freaky. As the slides kept rolling, he came out of the projector and gave the kids a huge fright. Also, when one of the kids witnessed a woman with a malformed face emerge from a painting. These moments were essential to the film because it showed the inner workings of Pennywise and the extent of his power. It also showed how far he would go to terrorize his victims, no matter how ruthless his actions may be. It also made one wonder the origins of it. Pennywise was a being beyond comprehension and would expect the movie to explain this, but it didn’t. So, if one didn’t read the book and solely relied on the movie to give a thorough explanation, they would assume that It was a supernatural being with an unknown origin, it would cause one the wonder if it could even be stopped
Aside from the jump scares, there were some lighthearted moments that one could feel at ease while watching. Like when the new kid Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Bill started to show visible signs of having feelings for Beverly (Sophia Lillis). There were times where the viewer could see the children engage in childish behavior, making one remember their youth and smile at their innocence. One could also feel the tight knit bond shared between the small group, which consists of Bill, Beverly, Ben, Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff). They were all willing to risk their lives to help the other, which was both heartwarming and pleasing to watch.
Director Andy Muschietti did an exceptional job retelling the horror story that was originally written by Stephen King. He kept to the original story while making minor changes, like changing the time frame. He even included a backstory for Beverly, where she was being sexually abused by her father. This explained the behavior she displayed in the film, like her flirtatious attitude and being labeled as a slut by her peers. It made one develop a sense of understanding for Beverly, where the root of her actions was shown. These minor changes still made the movie enjoyable, since, in the end, they stuck to the original story.
Overall, while IT has its share of scares, it was more of a comical flick than a fright-inducing one. What made the movie a good watch was the notable performance from the child actors, which was both powerful and well done. Also, the children’s bravery was admirable from beginning to end. But as far as terror goes, there wasn’t much present in the film.