Note: So I only noticed this now but apparently this post didn’t upload the first time I tried to post it (which was literally two days after IT came out). I doubt people will be too interested in this review now, but hopefully it’s still enjoyable.
So earlier this evening a friend and I went to watch the new IT…
Let’s just say that watching the remake of the film that created one of my deepest fears wasn’t all fun and games – there were a few times where I considered leaving the cinema; but then I noticed the other audience members weren’t dealing with the jumpscares as well as my friend and I, so I figured I’d stick it out. And I’m glad I did.
Now, several hours later (it’s almost midnight at the time of writing this segment), I’m wracking my brain trying to remember everything I can from the original IT and from the bits of the book that I can remember (it’s been a while since I last read it and I never got to finish it; seriously need to reread it), I’ve got a lot of material to work with for the review so this is going to be a long night.
Apparently, this is how we overcome our deepest fears: by going to the movies.
Now, when is the Arachnophobia remake coming out?
The Next Morning:
When the IT remake was announced, I was thrilled, the friend I mentioned in the above paragraphs made me promise not to watch it without her, I did and she made the same promise to me as well, needless to say, we were really looking forward to it.
But once I’d settled into my cinema chair and the film had started, I slowly started to realise what I was in for. Georgie got his paper boat. Which then proceeded to make its way down a stormwater drain. And then It appeared.
There he was, Bill Skarsgård, covered in makeup. Made to look like Pennywise.
It was at this moment that I came to the realisation that I was probably going to start sobbing at any second.
After making the mistake of watching the original back when I was eight years old (with another friend of mine, he fared the experience much better than I), I’d had a deep-seated hatred and fear of clowns. Never liked people in those giant costumes either, always hated it when Simba from Simba Chips or Sasko Sam from SASKO (the bread company) came to visit my nursery school, but that’s a story for another time.
So yeah, thanks, Tim Curry, Ronald McDonald and I got off on the wrong foot before he even had a chance to greet me, and thank you too, Bill Skarsgård, now Ronald and I will never get along.
The new IT doesn’t take very long to get into things, excluding Georgie and his paper boat, we start seeing weird things literally within the first ten minutes. And I’m not talking ‘first ten minutes of Paranormal Activity’ stuff, I’m talking ‘last twenty minutes of Jeepers Creepers’ stuff.
We’re introduced to the protagonists and (for most of them) we see Pennywise playing to their fears within a few minutes of each character’s introduction.
IT hits the ground running and literally does not give you a single break, there is never a moment of calm; I thought we were barely an hour into the movie, but looking at the time indicated that we’d been in the cinema for nearly two hours – and even then it didn’t look like the film would end anytime soon.
This is one of those films where you literally can’t leave to go to the bathroom or get a snack, if you miss just two minutes within the first hour, there are things later on in the film that just won’t make sense.
It uses people’s fears to get to them.
Stan is afraid of disappointing his father, a rabbi at a local temple, but he is also absolutely terrified of the painting in his father’s office; It puts the two together and brings the ‘person’ (if you could call it that, online she’s being called the ‘Flute Lady’, in the film’s credits she’s named Judith) in the painting to life (the painting itself is based on the works of Amadeo Modigliani, more on that later).
Ben is frightened of being alone, but (at the start) he doesn’t have any friends so he spends time in the library, It manages to lure him into a dark corner and nearly gets to him when he’s alone.
Richie is scared of clowns, so Pennywise is already in the perfect form to get to him.
Bill’s fear isn’t so much a phobia and is more guilt than anything, but good old Pennywise manages to get his attention with just a few drops of water – remember, Georgie went missing during a rainstorm.
Beverly’s fear is more insinuated than actually shown, every now and then the film hints at her father being sexually abusive. But, she also gets a scary scene to herself, in the bathroom; with a lot of blood. Just after she’s bought some tampons at the nearby pharmacy.
Eddie is an asthmatic and a hypochondriac (he’s afraid of germs, dirt, infections, and the like), so It comes to him in the form of a homeless leper, covered in dirt, missing a nose, and looking like a walking plague.
The one thing I found most unnerving, was something I only noticed after I left the cinema, that there are several moments in the film which are aimed at us; the audience.
That scene in the library? Pay attention to the old lady in the background, notice how she’s constantly smiling and staring at Ben while he flips through a book on the town’s history. There are a few other moments like this, instances where Pennywise shows up in pictures in the background, stuff like that.
The creepy painting in Stanley’s father’s office wasn’t in the original story, it was something that director Andy Muschietti added himself. It’s actually based on one of his childhood fears, once upon a time, in his childhood home, his parents had a print of a Modigliani painting; Amadeo Modigliani had an interesting style, often painting people with elongated and deformed bodies or faces, the painting always frightened Muschietti and his child-self was terrified of the possibility of meeting face to face with the woman in the painting.
“He (Amadeo Modigliani) often does these portraits with elongated characters. His vision of humans were with elongated necks, crooked faces and empty eyes most of the time. It was so deformed that, as a child, you don’t see that as an artist’s style. You see it as a monster.” – Andy Muschietti
And let’s be honest; I’m sure most of us have a fear similar to this, as a child I always thought that the eyes in paintings and on billboards were following me, wasn’t as bad as my fear of spiders or clowns but it was just a little something that had me slightly paranoid whenever we left the house.
There were a couple of scenes and themes in the book that were missing in the film but there is good reason for that: one reason being child pornography is immoral (and illegal) and the other being that there was a scene in which a group of homophobes beat a homosexual practically to death – you can see how either of these would be horribly received by the general public.
How does it hold up against
the original and the miniseries?
I’m going to have to clear something up before you waste your time on the original film AND the miniseries: they’re the same thing. The miniseries came out first and consisted of two episodes, said episodes were then put together to make up the nearly three and a half hour long film; the 2017 release, for comparison, is two hours and fifteen minutes long.
The original IT constantly jumps between the 1950s and the 1980s, exploring the childhoods of our protagonists and their first encounter with It to their adulthoods and final encounter with It; whereas this new iteration focuses only on their childhoods, and moved the setting up a few years to the 1980s, giving most of the people of today something they can relate to, what with all the nostalgia and music of the 80s.
One difference fans of the original will have noticed while watching the reboot is that there was no Wolf Man scene. In the original, Richie has an encounter with It just after watching Universal’s Wolf Man at the cinema, but because the setting has been moved by nearly thirty years, Wolf Man wouldn’t have been as applicable to the character. The only reference to this in the new IT is a shot of a cinema with “Nightmare on Elm Street 5” on the board outside.
And no, Freddy Krueger does not make an appearance (but it looks like we will be seeing him in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One).
As someone who was terrified by the original as a kid, imagine my disappointment at going back to discover that it was actually atrociously horrible. The first part of the original is pretty good, although there are multiple parts where It could have easily killed each of the main characters but didn’t, and the second half was just anticlimactic and filled with more drama than horror. And the final fight scene? Don’t even get me started.
One similarity I have to applaud was one I didn’t even notice until well into doing my research for this review: the power of belief.
At one point in the original, the first time the kids defeat Pennywise, they discover that they can use It’s strengths to their advantage; he is how they perceive him, he reacts to things the way they think he would; so Eddie uses his inhaler on Pennywise, saying that the contents consisted of battery acid, and sprays It a couple of times. And so the inhaler was filled with battery acid, which melted one side of Pennywise’s face.
I won’t go too into detail about how this is similar to something in the reboot, but let’s just say that it’s a throwaway moment that even I didn’t think about until a few moments after the fact.
The only review that matters:
What does Stephen King himself think about the new IT?
“I had hopes but I wasn’t prepared for how good it really was. It’s something that’s different and at the same time it’s something that audiences are going to relate to, and they’re gonna like the characters. Because, to me, it’s all about character; if you like the characters, you care, and then the scares generally work.”
“I think that my fans will really enjoy the movie” … “I think that some of them will go back two or three times to actually savour the thing; I mean, I went back and saw it a second time and felt that I was seeing things the second time through that I’d missed the first time.”
“Skarsgård was great as Pennywise, and he’s got big shoes to fill, let’s face it; because people remember Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown and they remember the look that Pennywise had.”
“When I wrote the book, I thought to myself ‘Well, I’ve written some books and have gotten this reputation as a horror novelist, so IT will be my final exam. And I’ll bring back all the monsters, that I remember, from my childhood, the ones that I grew up with. Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Thing from Beyond the Grave, because the entity that is Pennywise focuses on whatever that particular child fears the most. Well, I was thinking about the Universal Monsters and the ones that scared kids in the 50s, well, they’ve moved the timeframe, they had to, to the 80s. To me, that isn’t the important thing, the important thing is they kept the core idea that Pennywise gets to these kids by finding out what they’re afraid of and being that thing.”
Don’t you just love that? Very rarely do book-to-film adaptations work well when the author isn’t involved in production, so it really means something when a film like this does well and the author was only used as an over the phone consultant for the second half of the film’s production.
What’s really interesting to note is that the new IT has a secret title that was only revealed at the very end of the film… “IT: Chapter One”.
We all know what that means; there was a little bit of foreshadowing in the film for the sequel but no announcements have as yet (at the time of writing) been made, director Andy Muschietti is eager to do a sequel, he has said that they could start on pre-production by mid-2018, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait another 27 years though (which just so happens to be It’s feeding/hibernating cycle), as IT: Chapter One took place in 1989, meaning that the sequel would take place in 2016.