Stephen King has really made quite the name for himself throughout the years, obtaining the kind of status that most writers could only ever dream about. He’s a visionary with something of a sick, twisted, but altogether extraordinary mind. His work has been so impressive in fact that it’s attracted the likes of other visionaries such as Stanley Kubrick, Frank Darabont and Rob Reiner, all wishing to adapt various novels of his for the big screen.
In 1990 Tommy Lee Wallace adapted King’s IT novel which was about a group of bullied kids who join together when a monster (taking the appearance of a clown) begins hunting children and feeding on their deepest, darkest fears. Wallace’s 90’s adaption took on the form of a TV miniseries, which in all honesty didn’t do spectacularly well for itself, but over the years it’s managed to gain a cult following. I watched it for the first time just a few weeks ago and I have to say I didn’t feel like it had aged at all gracefully. Nowadays it plays out like a comedy more than anything else, the library scene in particular, could quite possibly be one of my favourite things ever, just because of how ridiculous and over the top it is.
Watching the 90’s version though I could definitely see a potential for greatness there, I mean some of the scenes where it was just these kids hanging out were really enjoyable to me and almost gave me the same feeling as watching say, The Goonies or Stand By Me. I think more than anything I just felt as though it could do with being brought into the 21st century, my issues with the TV miniseries were more aesthetical than narrative driven and for the most part that’s exactly what Andy Muschietti’s IT remake has accomplished.
Visual effects are obviously far more advanced today then what they were back in the early 90’s and it really does make a difference. Perhaps one of the most iconic scenes would be Beverly Marsh’s horror as blood erupts from the plug hole of her bathroom sink, although watching the 90’s version of that scene back now just feels like sitting through an advert for Heinz ketchup. Here in the remake, however, it’s a genuinely terrifying gore-fest!
Wallace’s TV miniseries was split into two episodes, with the first mostly focusing on these kids being terrorised by Pennywise the dancing clown. The second episode focused on these same characters 27 years later, as they’re forced to return to their hometown of Derry and relive the nightmare once more. Andy Muschietti’s IT remake only concerns itself with telling the children’s story, however, it very cheekily teases a part two before fading out into the credits. Judging by how packed the screening I went to was, I’d say that this is most definitely going to happen.
In the end, Muschietti’s remake does exactly what a good remake should do, it’s an out with the old and in with the new kind of scenario which still stays true to the source material. There’s some excellent casting, the child actors in particular, and Bill Skarsgard breathes new life into the character of Pennywise. I don’t recommend seeing this film though if you’re only after a few jump scares, because while there may be a few littered around the place, it’s a horror/adventure and cheap jump scares are not the film’s sole purpose. 7/10