September 20, 2017
Stephen King is one of the most wickedly talented and productive writers in this day and age, there are currently more than 70 movies and mini-series that are inspired by his works. Arguably, the most noticeable and memorable of them was 1990’s IT mini-series that introduced us to a fear-hungry, murderous clown-monster and gave people coulrophobia for life. Thank you, Stephen!
Full disclosure: I haven’t read the book itself and have almost zero recollection of the 90’s mini-serious. I wouldn’t even consider revisiting the mini-series because it most certainly wouldn’t hold up. The only thing I’m left with is a memory of Tim Curry’s amazingly terrifying performance that left a lot of kids, myself included, terrified of clowns. But (Butt!), Hollywood has a sequel-reboot fever and no property is safe and, of course, the 90’s version of IT needs to get a re-imagination. The timeline has been tweaked from 1960’s to 1989 and the movie was entirely focused on the kids’ storyline. The actual plot wasn’t altered that much – something sinister is happening in the town of Derry as kids go missing. Bill’s (Jaeden Lieberher, Midnight Special) little brother Georgie is one of them. Bill and his mates – wisecracking Richie (Finn Wolfhard, Stranger Things), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff, Guardians of the Galaxy) – try to find Bill’s little brother and encounter something evil in their search for Georgie. The boys are soon joined by three new friends – Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and a girl named Bev (Sophia Lillis). I have to admit, it was a surprisingly good movie! No wonder IT’s killing it in the box-office.
As it often happens, child actors can deliver the most cringe-inducing performances, but not this time – every kid did a stellar job, all of them were real, believable characters. The two performances that really stood out from the crowd were Jack Dylan Grazer’s and Sophia Lillis’ who portrayed Eddie and Bev respectively. In particular, the movie did a fantastic job with Bev’s portrayal as her character is being unfairly sexualized by her family and the public, and two of our boys fall in love with her without ever objectifying or sexualizing her in any way. That love triangle that is created by Bill, Bev, and Ben was also pretty cute. And lest we forget Bill Skarsgård (Atomic Blonde) as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, that man was scary as hell, and he should definitely be consider for the Joker in future DCEU movies.
The metaphor of these kids overcoming their fears and defeating Pennywise is (I assume) transitioning into an adulthood and facing the challenges of it. At the same time, it’s amazing how different in scale the fears of each kid were. For instance, Bev is psychologically traumatized by her pedophilic dad and Bill is grieving from Georgie’s death, whereas Stan is simply afraid of a painting and Eddie fears germs and stuff. I guess that that’s the point – fear is fear, regardless of its nature.
In conclusion, the movie was absolutely amazing and it makes me look forward to the sequel that would show our heroes all grown up. Obviously, IT gets a definitive score, but you’ll find it out if you come a little closer to the storm drain…