Well now…I didn’t know how to feel about this remake. Stephen King books were a staple of mine growing up, and IT was fairly relatable, kids fighting their fears come to reality. So the original film/series (as the 90s loved to turn Kings horror in to a series and then show it as a film for some unknown reason) is a much loved one to me. I think Tim Curry’s rendition of Pennywise was sublime as he boarder lined a clown that you would let in to your kids birthday parties….you know, when he wasn’t feeding on children, so booking to see this left me in a little bit of a predicament of already feeling that it wouldn’t match up to my expectations.
How wrong I was. This film keeps the quintessential 80s feel to it, kids that would play out all day and parents didn’t panic about where they were. Bullies that were left to run riot and terrorise the younger kids. Parents who didn’t jump when their kids said there was a killer clown on the loose.
This film elevates King’s book further though. If you’ve seen the original, you would have been a forgiven for feeling a little confused by it, presented from the perspective of the grown ups having flash backs to their childhood and eventually battling Pennywise in his true form, this reboot is clearly a 1 of 2 film and is solely based on the childhood experience. So no flash backs with adult interpretation overlaid on it.
As I’m hoping you all know the original story, I’m not going to break down the synopsis. Really I am going to talk about how the new effects have brought clarity to a shady storyline. Now baring in mind I’ve read the book several times, I always found the original film missed a lot out, never really making it clear that Pennywise presented each child with their biggest fear, or why he was taunting this town. This film explores the reasons why Pennywise lingers in the town of Derry and why he keeps returning in a time based cycle. It also explicitly explains each of the main characters fears, so when you’re presented with it, you’re not left wondering what was going on.
The fears are superbly shown as well. From fear of burning alive, to fear of illness, to fear of clowns, each element is projected to you the viewer in a unique and and fairly terrifying way….well according to the women sat behind me in the cinema who screamed at any opportunity. I will admit though, that even as a hardened horror fan, there was a point where I jumped.
I want to talk a little bit more about Pennywise, obviously as the focal point of the film, it’s really important to present the unhinged yet enticing element of him.
Tim Curry mastered this role, being ever so slightly off kilter when normal and then at the extreme where needed.
The make up and outfit clearly very easy on the eye in clown stakes and the costume brightly coloured to back up the attraction to him for children. Ok, the gruff voice might have made you wonder about him.
So when you’re meet with Bill Skargård in the role it feels very different. The make up not quite so friendly, the eyes slightly off set, the costume lacking bright colour, you feel that there is something to be wary of before he even opens his mouth. As he starts to speak, he is much more tapped in to the dark side from the start. You can hear the crack in the voice that tells you something’s not quite right, and as he is hid in the storm drain speaking to Georgie before dragging I’m under, drool falls from his mouth.
The off kilter eyes and drooling is a theme through out the film so keep an eye out for it. Slargård is also much more movement orientated and the director plays a lot with size and perspective, giving the feel of fear becoming overwhelming.
All in all I raise my imaginary hat to Andy Muschietti for doing such a great justice to this film. Even if you aren’t a horror fan, it’s worth seeing just for the line “who invited Molly Ringwald to the party” and the bully vs. Losers rock fight.