I grew up with the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation of this Stephen King novel and really liked it. Admittedly, the second adult portion of the film wasn’t as good but as a whole the film resonates with me mostly for its very memorable Pennywise the Dancing Clown, played by a stellar Tim Curry. I caught a late night of showing of the 2017 incarnation of this story, and wow. I’m quite impressed with what I’ve witnessed. The trailer for this film actually looked really promising, with Bill Skarsgård looking menacing as the clown.
The film takes place in the town of Derry during the late 80’s. A group of outcast and bullied kids band together to form The Loser’s Club. Their social issues are not the only reason they bond; all of them are being terrorized by a monstrous entity that takes the form of a clown. The losers must find a way to overcome this clown that feeds on their deepest fears and feeds on children in the town every 27 years. Most of the cast for this film are fairly new (including the not so well know Bill Skarsgård), apart from an excellent Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things. However, a giant strength this film has over the original is the chemistry between the cast, and the overall humorous and identifiable nature of the child actors.
I had doubts about this when Cary Fukunaga dropped out as director but liked that he stayed on to co-write. I’ve got to say Andy Muschietti does well to put his name out there with this film. Well done on making this film Rated-R. The violence and terror and adult themes really get to be portrayed well, which really amplifies the horror level. The initial scene with Georgie and Pennywise in the sewer was legitimately horrifying and we can thank the rating for that. The film is a coming of age film but also a real loss of innocence film. The kids in the film face very disturbing adult themes. The bullying is downright traumatic, the sexual abuse and death surrounding these characters isn’t even the worst of it with a maniac clown stalking you to death.
Skarsgård does very well as Pennywise. I still prefer Tim Curry’ Pennywise more but this film has one to closely match. Skarsgård’s tall lanky frame and disturbing delivery make the 2017 incarnation of the clown a thrilling, captivating and even more evil update to Curry’s. The film does well to blend humor, emotion, and horror together. The kids are funny, there are times they will have you rolling. Finn Wolfhard with his unfiltered potty mouth is a standout. Sophia Lillis delivers a deep and mature performance for a child actor.
There are many similarities between the 1990 version and the 2017 remake. I never read King’s novel (although I am planning to do so) but the new film keeps mostly faithful to the last, albeit with an update on the horror value. I didn’t find this film to be downright scary or anything but its very satisfying because its able to get so much from its cast and writers and makes for a pleasant experience. Although, the film has child actors do not mistake this for a children friendly film. Its completely adult and much more adult than the TV miniseries.
Its quite obvious whether you have seen the film yet or not that there will be another film. Come on, you should know that the original miniseries is two parts with an adult portion where the kids grow up and get terrorized once again by Pennywise. If the writers, filmmaker, and clown stay the same, then I am game for the next chapter. Overall, its a great remake that benefits from being more modern and more mature. Watch It.