IT (2017) is a worldwide phenomenon. And I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t see it coming. As a big fan of Stephen King’s book and the 1990 mini-series, I was quite a skeptic and when I saw the first Pennywise images – some months ago – I thought this was just too much. That wasn’t a clown hiding a monster, it was just a monster.
I was only fourteen and I was a TV zapping world champion at that time, but one thing stopped my thumb that night… paraffin.
What the hell, the paraffin! What was it? I didn’t know. That kid, however, seemed to have a tremendous need of paraffin to build a paper boat that could float. The icing on the cake was the fact that he had to go get it in a dark and mysterious cellar, a clue that immediately made me think of a horror movie. A genre for which I felt (and I still feel) love and hate at the same time. After seeing the kid older brother painting the boat’s belly with that mysterious substance I lost a bit of the initial interest, but I wanted to see if his creation was floating so I decided to keep watching.
What happens next is one of the scariest and beautiful television memories I have. The floating boat slips into a cobble by the side of the road and George, that was the kid’s name, looks inside. That’s when Pennywise (IT) shows up for the first time.
To be honest, the first part of the mini-series – all about what happened when the protagonists were children – was far better than the second one, in which those friends are adults and come back to fight the redeeming monster. In this second part, the Goonies-style freshness is lost, and the technical limitations (special effects to forget) plus the budget constraints (the producer limited it very much) made the rest. All in all, however, IT was and will remain one of the pillars of the nineties horror landscape.
IT (2017) has arrived after a long wait, skillfully powered by the marketing machine. At a screenplay level ( Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga) and at a movie direction level (Andy Muschietti) the work that has been done is very good. Perhaps a bit too action-movie style and not always outstanding on the CGI, but overall it is well done. Good the acting, starting from Bill Skarsgård as the Pennywise clown, less fun than the fabulous Tim Curry of the ninety version, but definitely scarier. A special mention also for Finn Wolfhard, already the protagonist of Netflix Stranger Things, who seems to turn into gold everything he touches.
Unlike its predecessor, IT (2017) is characterized by very bloody scenes, where no one – even the children – is spared. The first scene with George losing the boat is told through crude images, though the dialogues have remained more or less the same. Adrenaline and tension are a steady growth and leave little room to relax for the spectator.
IT (2017) fulfills the expectations of who wants to get scared, but if I recall the feelings I had when I saw the 1990 version, I think something is missing. It is not about the plot (it was smart to tell only the first part and leave for the sequel the one where the kids get adults), and certainly not the directing, the acting or the special effects. It’s more subtle.
Tim Curry’s Pennywise was not scary at the first sight, he looked like a real clown with a ridiculous nose, a huge wig, and a funny face. Skarsgård, on the other hand, terrorizes you from the first to the last second with those inhumane eyes, a makeup meant to disturb whoever looks at him and those bearded teeth resting on the fleshy lip. A substantial difference which, in the modern version, deprives the public of the evolution of the character. Bringing the balance towards a sudden fright instead of a growing fear. The new IT is more scared than the first and it shows for the monster that is after the first five minutes of
This difference makes me choose the 1990 version over this new one. Because if somebody with a scary mask jumps in front of you from behind the door you’ll be scared for one hour, but if somebody scares you from the inside of your soul, that fear last forever.
IT (2017) is already a worldwide success, it will drown you in adrenaline without giving you a moment of peace. The funny thing is that its tremendous intensity is its greatest virtue and its worst weakness at the same time.