WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE NEW IT 2017 FILM

About five months ago, the trailer for IT 2017 began to show its painted, terrifying face around Youtube and other forms of media. Horror fans and, indeed, Stephen King fans got excited. This new version featured Andrés Muschietti, the director for the 2013 MAMA, as well as a lineup of promising actors. It was even stated that Bill Skarsgård was so terrifying on set that the child actors avoided him like the plague and expressed genuine fear.

IT 2017: A Hush Falls Over the Crowd

It’s September 8th. IT 2017 has just been released in America. The theaters are crowded in my small town cinema; the show is completely sold out for this new installment of the Stephen King classic. We plod through the advertisements, the trailers and then, finally, the movie begins.

The audience all wonders: is it going to be tops or flop? We are introduced to main character Bill, a stuttering protagonist amongst the rag-tag team of bullied youths, and his little brother Georgie. IT 2017 wastes no time in setting up the tension, even making a cellar scene feel like a jump scare waiting to happen. However, we do not get our real first whammy until Georgie meets Pennywise, the dancing clown.

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Our titular antagonist and horrifying monster from King’s nightmares wastes no time in channeling his inner Heath Ledger’s Joker and being outright creepy. Within the first five minutes, Pennywise appears and literally bites Georgie’s arm off and drags him down into happy Funland.

It is evident from the get-go that IT 2017 aims to be gorier than the original and myself, and fellow audience members all uttered a collective groan. Seeing a little kid flailing around and bleeding from his now severed arm certainly sets the mood.

The Characters

From there, we skip forward two years where the still grieving Bill steadily forms up with other outcasts around town. Beverly, Ben, Richie, Mike, Eddie, and Stanley. The movie wastes no time showing how each of the kids are both bullied and uniquely hilarious.

The biggest strength of the film, I will say straight away, comes from the cast of child actors. Their performance, sense of camaraderie and genuine emotional connections feel very realistic; even more so than the original, perhaps. You can feel the struggles of each child and their arc as they go through it. Whether it is Eddie’s hypochondria or Beverly’s disturbing relationship with her father, the movie does not hold back.

IT 2017

Each character might play into a stereotype of sorts: Richie is the wisecracking trash talker, Stanley is the Jewish kid, Beverly is your token girl, etc. However, all of them feel exactly like people you might have been friends with when you were young. The best part of the movie is watching these kids overcome and deal with their fears. Watching them rely on one another and bond as close friends.

It makes the stakes that much higher. The strength that they show between them as a group is not only powerful but one of the main themes of the movie, e.g., banding together to conquer your fear. It might not be the same ole cheesy ‘the power of friendship’ drivel, but it does have a real strength to it without being cheesy or cliche. Even if you are not a horror fan, IT 2017 might be worth it just to see these actors play-off one another.

The Scares

IT 2017 does an excellent job of setting up the things that scare these kids the most straight away. Personally, I found the Painting to be the scariest (personal opinion). There was something so very Junji Ito about the twisted face and sharp teeth that I adored. That aside, Pennywise has a significant presence. He is both scary and hilarious in the strangest of ways — as any evil clown should be, I suppose.

IT 2017

The scares in IT 2017 range from genuinely terrifying to silly. It blends that old Stephen King campiness into a delicate balance that gives Pennywise a unique presence on screen. He is manipulative, cunning and comes across as sadistic the way he torments these kids.

He is smart enough to know that he needs to split them up and cruel enough to, in several instances, trap them alone with him. Mike’s fear, a manifestation of when his parents burned in a house fire, is also fairly disturbing; almost Silent Hillesque.

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The various forms he takes also range from scary to silly. Again, my favorite was the woman from the painting. Seeing her up close and then, later on, in action, really got under my skin. On the other hand, things like the headless man and the leper had me laughing to myself.

It mimics the old IT in a very loving way. Audiences can see that these kids are afraid of very different things and some of their fears might seem laughable to us. Others, however, are sure to bother us on a personal level. I cannot even imagine how many were terrified of just seeing clowns strewn about in particular scenes or Pennywise opening a maw of endless teeth to devour these poor kids. All-in-all, it is an effective horror movie with plenty of scares tailored to a broad audience. If you want to jump, gasp and laugh in the same setting, IT 2017 is your kind of movie.

The Verdict

IT 2017 proves that remakes are not always a bad thing. With the heart of Stephen King’s writing mixing with modern, well-tailored horror, this movie is a fantastic first installment. It has great scares, an amazing cast and is just an all around horror gem.

Comedic, dark, disturbing and even mysterious, this film should be on your must-see list. Even if you are afraid of clowns, give this remake a go. It is well worth it just to see the beautiful cinematography, the fantastic cast and some of the more comedic moments.

As a horror fan, I highly recommend this movie, and can’t wait to see Chapter 2.

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