Stephen King’s IT, which was published in 1986, is generally considered one of his best works. It was genuinely scary and at times, extremely disturbing. The 1990 TV miniseries was also well regarded, and is pretty much solely responsible for a full generation of people being terrified of clowns. While the television version was good, it was severely watered down from the source material (there was no way that some material from the book could have been filmed for TV). Yet, despite the success of the book and miniseries, it has been a very long road getting the movie to the big screen. Now after 27 years, the R-rated version has finally hit movie screens and I have to say, the wait was worth it.
When it comes to discussing IT, no conversation is complete without mentioning Pennywise. The evil clown, who is the main villain, is among one of the most well known “bad guys” in pop culture history. Tim Curry, who portrayed Pennywise in the TV version, became best known for the role and he was absolutely amazing in it. When the feature length remake was announced, the question on most people’s minds was if the actor cast in the role could possibly hold a candle to Curry. Well, I can say that relative unknown Bill Skarsgård not only nails the role, he may have actually surpassed Curry. The original version of the clown was creepy, but the new version is straight up terrifying.
The miniseries was split into two parts, both of which alternated between two timelines – one in 1957/58 when the main characters are children and the other in 1984/85 when the characters are grown up. The new version removes the adult versions completely in favor of featuring only the child versions of the characters (the upcoming sequel in 2019 will focus on the adults). While some may question the decision, I will say it was a brilliant decision. The kids were always the heart and soul of the novel, while their adult counterparts were more secondary. I also must say say, the child actors that were cast in the 2017 movie are phenomenal. Outside of the odd television appearance, most of the child actors were unknowns. If this movie is any indication, all of these kids will have long careers ahead of them. The real standouts are Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough, the leader of The Losers Club and Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, the only female in the group. Honestly, while it won’t happen I’d be fine with the sequel dropping the grown versions and focusing on the kids again.
The biggest change from TV movie to feature film, and a welcome one, is exactly how much new content was able to be put in the new movie. Television has always had guidelines for what is allowed to be shown on TV shows, and 27 years ago it was still very strict. The novel contained some very mature content that would never have passed the sensors in 1990, and now quite a few of the missing parts are finally available in the R-rated movie. One key part of the book is obviously missing (fans of the novel will know exactly which one I mean), but most of the others are here in all their gory goodness.
Is IT the one great horror movie that people have been waiting years for? No. But it is pretty damn great nonetheless, and very much worth the wait. The big concern is that when the sequel hits in two years, the primary focus is going to shift onto the grownups, and they are far less interesting than the kids. In the meantime, we should just sit back and enjoy what will now be considered the go to version of Stephen King‘s IT.
FINAL GRADE: B+