IT: A Stranger Things-like remake that stays true to Stephen King’s work
After an interim period of 27 years, Pennywise the Dancing Clown has awoken to feast on fear once more in Andy Muschietti’s remake of Stephen King’s IT. While the World Clown Association are already sufficiently concerned about their bottom line to release a statement defending their profession, they may find that they have less to fear from this iteration than expected.
The movie chooses to transplant the plot from the 50s to the late 80s, a tactical move that capitalises off the success of Netflix’s Stranger Things, which this movie shamelessly pilfers from. As a poignant, charming look at young adolescence, IT is a huge success, depicting the first flushes of young love and posturing profanity with the same affectionate honesty. The seven core actors are delightful and share excellent chemistry, with Stranger Things’ own Finn Wolfhard stealing the show as the wisecracking Richie.
However, the nostalgia that makes IT delightful as a coming-of-age drama means it struggles as a genuine horror flick. Muschietti is content to rely on a very worn bag of cinematic tricks and the film often relies on Benjamin Wallfisch’s score to add unearned suspense. The overeager decision to provide a scare sequence for almost each of the core characters also receives diminishing returns once a predictable pattern is determined. More interesting than these unconnected vignettes are the parts of the movie that focus on the town’s eerie backstory, which work better to establish Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) as a genuine threat than repeated failed attempts to murder 13-year-olds.
One can hope that these issues will be redressed in the film’s sequel since, despite a 135-minute runtime, IT only manages to cover the first half of Stephen King’s doorstopper novel. While the climax was altered in order to postpone the reveal about Pennywise’s true nature – as well as to excise some unsavoury scenes – the picture ultimately stays faithful to the spirit of King’s work in its focus on the interior lives of its characters. Hardcore horror fans might find themselves underwhelmed but, as a gripping human drama, IT succeeds, paying as much attention to sources of real-world horror, like the cruelty of abusive parents, as it does to the supernatural.
IT is released nationwide on 8th September 2017.
Watch the trailer for IT here: