The 1990 “It” is a film best kept to memory.
While it was a noble attempt to adapt one of Stephen King’s most graphic works into a TV movie, therein lies the problem.
This made-for-TV format was too restrictive for a book that out rightly describes the gruesome murders and mutilations of children.
This combined with some wooden acting and some blatantly early 1990s TV production quality, turned the film into one of peaks (often any scene with Tim Curry’s incarnation of Pennywise) followed by long meandering stretches.
In the 2017 film however, “It” can finally let its bleak, violent yet sympathetic world breathe.
Famous scenes such as Georgie being pulled down the sewer by Pennywise, the dancing clown, now pull no punches.
Without spoiling too many details, this scene especially shows a significantly more explicit and graphic illustration that perfectly sets the rest of the films tone as separate from the 1990 version.
Pennywise, now played by Swedish actor, Bill Skarsgård, portrays a more unstable and desperate clown versus Tim Curry’s more human-like aggression as Pennywise.
Skarsgård, whose voice often flutters with nervousness, acts desperately hungry and disturbed in his portrayal as though keeping even the clown visage is too limiting for his full evil.
He feels more abstract and monster like in his clown form than Curry’s, which functions somewhat as a double edged sword.
While this clown is undeniably dingier and more like a monster that resembles a clown, there is something horrifyingly grounding in seeing the monster as something as tangible as
We need books on a variety of topics and a variety of characters, even if they are books that don’t seem to matter.
The special effects are certainly there, with Pennywise’s face often violently twisting and contorting, but I found the scenes which featured him in his most human form the most disturbing, because you can almost believe this creature could threaten our own world.
The horror in real world fear is also impressively handled.
Thanks to a cast of excellent child actors, each friend, as well as their personal fears and horrors, feel intensely real.
What the film does so well is before it gives you something to be scared of, it makes you care for the main characters.
Through sharp realistic writing and some of the better child acting I have seen recently, it feels like we are really watching a band of misfit friends navigate through personal struggles as well as supernatural ones together.
Instead of relying on jump scares and sudden loud bursts of noise, viewers are given reasons to care and connect with these characters and thus, reasons to worry about them.
Scenes where a character is alone, regardless of if there is a threat, keep you anxious for the character’s wellbeing.
The scenes that feature real life horrors for the characters are often equally, if not more, disturbing than Pennywise’s scenes.
Whether it is scenes acknowledging the death of a family member or the abuse from one, they are all handled with surprising directness that feels intensely sympathetic to victims of such horrors.
Scenes featuring members of “The Losers Club” getting bullied are especially terrifying, but not in any enjoyable sense.
These scenes portray the kids in scenes of such helplessness and pain that you yourself feel their helplessness, forced to watch as they get abused simply for being different.
Eventually as the film unfolds, the characters’ problems get tackled head on as the kids take their lives into their own hands.
This feeling of powerlessness, followed by reclamation of said power, drives home the film’s message on how fear, and the way it can paralyze us, can render us helpless to changing the course of our own lives.
“It” offers the idea that while life is full of fear, it’s through relationships and genuine compassion for others that will save us from whatever horrors life throws at us.