This Fall blockbuster has broken records. It has been acclaimed as the third best grossing premier in theatrical history beat out only by Guardians of the Galaxy and Beauty and the Beast (the remake). I am talking about Stephen King’s classic horror thriller, IT.
The synopsis of the story is the town of Deery is haunted by a phenomenon from the supernatural world known as Pennywise. This monster hunts every few decades, feasting on the children of the town. The main character, Billie, lost his little brother Georgie to this monster. Pennywise lives in the sewers and is the epitome of fear, taking on the appearance of what people fear most. Throughout most of the movie he does appear in the form of a demonic clown.
As with all of Stephen King, this movie is absolutely unnerving. I myself hate horror with a passion and spent most of it curled up in a ball praying for Pennywise to get off the screen as quickly as possible. There is nothing corny about this movie either. This movie is indeed a remake. The original one was created in 1990 and was intended as a mini-series.
The original Pennywise in the 90’s was corny and very light comparable to the book version. The CGI helped make it more of a family movie. The 90’s clown had a raspy, almost habitual smoker like voice. One my brother has mastered perfectly, much to my chagrin. He would come out of the floor but he was always known to be coming. His presence was hinted by either the stereotypical horror music or a red balloon. This made sure the audience was never too surprised when he made an appearance.
Not so with Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise of 2017. While there are the occasional warning signs that his nightmarish clown counterpart is coming, for the most part, the new version adds to the horror by leaving you guessing. There are several jumpy scenes where a character turns around and he is suddenly there, looking hungrily at the children. Mr. Skarsgard must have had a heck of a time bringing his own maniacal twist to this horror classic as the costumes also differ. 90’s Pennywise looked like a demented Ronald McDonald, ’17 Pennywise looks more like a circus freak gone horribly wrong. The teeth are also far more jagged and gruesome, adding to the intimidation factor.
To add to the movie’s intensity are the cast of amazing child actors the director got to portray the Losers. The children, for not having had many lead roles in their lives, really took their roles quite seriously. The main boy especially who plays Billie, has an arc of grief and coping with a tragic loss that really touches the audience. This makes the nightmare all too real as well as many people have lost loved ones and have a sense of denial like Billie does initially. To have a fear of the cellar and creepy clowns is also quite relatable. The actors do an outstanding job making the audience feel authentic terror and horror when Pennywise does make his appearances.
Stephen King himself has seen this final product but once. He, the author, is even a bit shaken by this final creation of IT. He said that it terrifies him and he was the one who wrote it. That speaks volumes. One thing is for certain, this will give generations nightmares of the feared clown, Pennywise.