Yesterday, Mr. Scribbles and I ventured into our local movie theater to watch the new version of Stephen King’s IT. Having seen the original miniseries back in 1990, anxiety and wariness entered our minds. Will the film attempt to snatch our nostalgic takes? Will the film try to bogart a moment as so many remakes these days try? Let’s be real: Hollywood’s basically remake city now and it’s embarrassing, especially since the trailers before the film showcased REMAKES.
Flatliners and Blade Runner. Neither film needed remaking.
Give the gig to others, Hollywood. You’re tired.
I sat in the theater reminiscing on how adored the original miniseries. Tim Curry as Pennywise. The creep factor rushing each minute. The seemingly accepted eeriness of the town. The show scared us, granted, as a high school freshmen then, I’d admit no harm, if asked, while cowering in my covers in the night.
It scared me long after the premiere and long after I read the book.
While some detractors deemed the show corny, I’d do the same, if most of my horror came from jump scares and more focus on blood and gore, not an actual plot and fear factor, I waxed nostalgic for a time when the focus was on the chills and not the immediate thrills. In all fairness, 1990 still relied on story and limited tech to scare us. Sometimes tech hurts a tale, but somehow, people flock for the quick hustle and flow and not the long game.
On to the show…
Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise. – Imdb.com
Based on a Stephen King novel, director Andrés Muschietti successfully presented fear and terror, wrapped in a coming of age story, while questioning what’s real and what’s hallucinatory. Do you even want to know?
Creep Factor (4/5): Mr. Scribbles and I jumped a few times. Seeing child murdering on-screen’s not a fun time. Dysfunctional families. Kidnappings. Haunted houses. It’s there.
Pennywise’s actor and design (4/5). He’s faster. He’s leaner and slicker. He’s a crackhead in tights. Yet, he delivered the quick scares desired. Still, he can’t beat Tim’s in my book. Sometimes, a basic clown produced more scares than an ADHD clown.
Georgie’s death scene (5/5). Not a spoiler. Deal. But, the movie filmed this pivotal moment correctly. You want Georgie to stay inside and live to see another day (Who played in the rain anyway? I never knew anyone doing so). I experienced fear, anxiety, and horror as Pennywise snatched his naive prey. My feelings compounded this go-round because motherhood added a layer of ruin. Before having children, I watched the scene with horror and sadness for him, but the level of panic and helplessness never entered. Twenty-seven years later, all bets were off. I gave this go-round more points because it’s more gruesome than the miniseries.
80s References (4/5). It’s not the fifties, but 1989. A year etched in my life. Thirteen and open-eyed, I loved the New Kids on the Block, bike-riding and horror films. Alongside some good mama jokes, all were referenced, sometimes a bit heavy-handed.
Childhood fears. The story illustrated how childhood fears reached beyond Pennywise. Health, acceptance, family dysfunction, bullying, and societal ostracization played on those righteous fears, which, in all honesty outweigh a clown willing to up their ante.
Too many jokes hindered the overall scare factor. Sometimes I found myself laughing when I should have shrieked. By the time, a horrific moment appeared, the laugh before stole its rightful thunder.
More jump scares for the younger ones hurt the fear factor. One or two, yes. But, the film relied on a few more than necessary. Psychological horror. That’s the ticket. Burn the horror in the viewers’ hearts and minds.
Sometimes the story felt more like Stranger Things mixed with The Goonies and Stand By Me. Stephen King fixed his machine stumping any director in hopes of adapting his books. Parts of the movie felt too familiar, even when faced with new tech and new hands. Maybe this story worked best, not as a horror story, but as a coming of age tale cautioned in realistic pain.
Changing Mike’s characterization to add to the other “Losers”. Mike knew Derry’s history, not Ben. He became the librarian. Mike’s the smart one, but his storyline’s changed to be the more tragic muscle of the group. No dice. I disliked that change immensely.
Overall, we enjoyed the film. Not better than the miniseries, but different. Tim Curry should feel safe knowing he’s the ultimate Pennywise. Stephen King made more money. There’s room for both. While the reviews offered more hype than necessary, Mr. Scribbles and I felt fine with paying the crazed ticket prices (unlike 1990) to see this film.
Verdict: 4/5 red balloons. See the film.