I first saw the original IT when I was about 11 and thought the first half an hour (that’s all I could bear to watch) was just about the scariest thing I’d ever seen. Skip forward about 6 years and I watched it again with a few friends and we decided that it really didn’t age all that well. Ever since the idea that a remake was in the works, I’ve been onboard because we can finally get a newer version of the classic Stephen King story. IT (2017) still follows the same group of kids that call themselves The Losers Club, who live in the town of Derry, which gets terrorized by a shapeshifting demon every 27 years. The entity known as IT lures children in and then uses their fears to make them scared because kids taste so much better that way! Tastyyy fear…Only this film just focuses on the Losers Club as kids, which is already a plus in my books because it gives the movie enough time to fully flesh out these characters and make you care for them with a run time of over two hours! (The original was three, with both stories!) Which means Part 2 (focusing on The Losers Club as adults) will have room to breathe and to show even more from the 1000+ page book.
If you were exposed to the original IT as a kid like I was, the biggest question with this remake comes down to this: Is it scary? For that I can say… not quite as much as I’d like it to be. Some parts turned into a generic horror film where the jump scares were just loud noises, and with those, the shock factor quickly diminishes and you forget about it and I was hoping for a little more out of them. Rest assured though, there are a few standout Pennywise scenes that will stick with me, these include: the classic storm drain sequence, a projector scene and also the refrigerator scene. The first and third scene mentioned really show what Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise) can do with this character and he really shows that he can live up to the expectations brought on by Tim Curry from the original. It’s something different, unique and really unsettling and that’s the type of thing you want to see in a remake, someone new, doing fresh and exciting things. I do wish in a couple of scenes that they didn’t rely on as much CGI and on Pennywise’s face because Bill can clearly show what he’s capable of during the standout moments. But when I think about that, IT is a shapeshifter anyway, so it’s not supposed to seem real? I also understand the movie was an experiment of sorts because who knew how well it’d do, hence the small budget. It’s not all about the scares though, the movie is a coming of age story about a group of kids who are battling their own demons at home, on the streets, or facing bullies w ho eventually band up together to take on IT. This is probably one of the best cast of kids I’ve seen in a movie because their chemistry is unlike anything I’ve ever seen! So kudos to them and especially to the director Andy Muschietti for getting great performances out of all seven kids. It’s not really classed as a horror/comedy, but you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at some of the lines that come out of these kid’s mouths, especially Richie (Finn Wolfhard) and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer).
The cinematography is also beautiful as well with locations such as Port Hope (Ontario, Canada) serving as the town of Derry, Maine. When I read the book, this is exactly how I pictured it! The infamous house on Neilbolt Street which was built (exterior only) in Oshawa looks awesome on film, the set designers did an amazing job. I believe almost all of this movie was filmed in Ontario, Canada and it’s great to see that, especially with a big, highly anticipated horror film such as IT was.
The movie as a whole is just really well done (nitpicks aside) and the amount of detail put in from the book is astounding. Andy Muschietti has also stated that he’d like to do a Pet Semetary remake, sign me up! Overall, if you were skeptical that it wouldn’t live up to some aspects of the original, or live up to the hype then put your mind at ease because IT was well worth the wait (27 years between the original and remake? Coincidence? I think not!!) and is now among one of my favourite Stephen King adaptations of all time.
(4.5 out of 5)