FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #71
Writer(s):Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman, Stephen King (based on the novel)
Starring:Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard,
Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff
The tired trope of how Hollywood has run out of ideas isn’t necessarily untrue but yes, it’s quite tired at this point. Although I understand that creativity can be hindered if we keep reaching in the well and re-hashing old favorites or give new perspectives to ideas that most could argue were just fine in the first place, my approach to is to assess what’s being put out there and then act accordingly. This means that yes, to the shock and awe of some, there are GOOD remakes out there my loyal ghouls, It’s true! This phenomenon applies to all movie genres and of course, my vault is also filled with movie titles of the same name but different years. One of the most recent (and best) examples of a solid remake is one that held a close place in my heart, frankly because the original traumatized me (in the best kinds of ways) when I was a child.
Since I’ve already gushed about the original adaptation of Stephen King’s IT (CLICK HERE) I’ll give you readers a second to click the link and meet me back here so we can chat about the remake…yeah, like go click it now so this entry can be A LOT more fun, I’ll wait.
You back? Excellent. You now totally get why the original IT is a force of nature when it comes to horror flicks. The performance of a lifetime from Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown sent permanent shivers down my spine that made me question every functioning thing in a standard restroom (e.g. drains, sinks, etc.). Yet somehow, when I look back to the story of IT, the theme that stuck with me throughout the years was not fear but the power of friendship. The Losers Club that was formed by a bunch of kids from different backgrounds to take on a monster is what gave this horror flick the heart that elevated this movie to legendary status. As scary as Pennywise would get in this flick, the idea of stopping a monster through the power of friendship was a lesson that stuck with me throughout the years.
Having said that, when I first heard about the remake of IT, I decided that my judgment on this flick will solely live and die on The Losers Club. Pennywise will be the one getting the gasps and screams but the Losers Club would determine whether this was a good or bad movie, period. It doesn’t take much convincing to make folks scared of clowns (largely due to Tim Curry’s incredible performance in the original IT) but it does take A LOT of convincing that these kids come together in an organic way to take on a kid – eating monster. The moment of truth came when the first trailer for the flick came out and that’s when I started to get excited; the kids seemed quite convincing. From the get-go, I knew that this flick would have to change a couple things to make it more modern.
First, the time shift would have to happen if the adult versions of The Losers Club were to happen in modern times. I actually enjoyed the fact that the new timeline set this movie in the 80s because, hey, who doesn’t like 80s nostalgia? I also appreciated the decision to split this flick up into two movies and that the first movie would only focus on the children. In the original flick, the movie goes back and forth from adulthood to childhood with a series of flashbacks. In the remake however, the decision to dedicate an entire movie to just the kids made was a smart move because if the concept of the movie lies in the fact that a group of children came together to take on a monster, then you have to dedicate a good chunk of time establishing that these kids are genuine friends so by the time they are adults, you’ve already laid the foundation that these people are close and that they have to come together again to defeat their childhood monster. The remake does not stray away too far from the original character archetypes that were presented in the original flick (i.e. the leader, the joker, the neurotic, etc.) but somehow, these new group of kids made the archetypes feel fresh (the cursing DEFINITELY help to elevate the humor). I genuinely felt that the kids talked and acted the way I did with my group of friends back in my childhood which absolutely worked in this remake. Since the original movie was made for TV, the rated R remake actually elevated the story by allowing the kids to interact with each other in a more natural way, which is a kind way of saying that the relentless ribbing that friends do to each other was clearly and successfully applied to the flick.
In the subject of Pennywise, I think it was smart that the filmmakers knew that they could not recreate the magic that was established by Tim Curry, it would be a losing battle that would pay no dividends at the end of the day, so instead, they focused on making Pennywise the clown more sinister than devilish. Although Bill Skarsgård’s take on the clown was not nearly as amusing as Tim Curry’s, I would say that this iteration of Pennywise was more of an actual monster. They replaced the wisecracks with creepy stares and faint whispers that spouted out disturbing lines. Having the freedom of a R rating also helped Pennywise showcase how monstrous the clown can really be when he’s in action. Although I felt that the CGI was a bit over done at times, I did appreciate how the gore was kicked up several notches compared to the original, especially in the opening scene where we finally get to see HOW poor little Georgie bites the dust that sets the tone of the movie from the very beginning.
This first entry in the remake of IT was executed to near perfection when it came to the storytelling and the decisions made with how to portray The Losers Club which certainly paid off with droves of viewers clamoring for the second flick right when the credits rolled. The ending was both moving and frustrating because you wanted to watch the second part right there and then. It wasn’t necessarily a cliff hanger but those who know the story (most folks) know that these kids will grow up and battle the monster once again and as the credits roll you feel almost annoyed that you’ll have to wait another couple years until the next flick comes out…BRAVO to the filmmakers for making the viewers foam at the mouth for the next movie, you’ve done your job well. Lucky for me (and you if you decide to check this flick out for the first time), this article is being written mere days before IT: Chapter TWO comes out! I have a feeling that the second flick shall also make it to my FearTastic Vault…so sure that I’ll probably write about it soon…*cough cough*
In summary, I’d have to ask myself the following; if not the terrifying clown of death, what is the idea that stuck the most with me when it comes to the IT movies in general? To me, it seems simple enough; If you surround yourself with the right people, anything can be accomplished. In fear of getting WAY too deep for this entry, I’ll leave it with this simple notion; friends are good but friendshipsare great.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.