I have said it before and I’ll say it again: remakes can be extremely difficult to pull off successfully. That is especially true when talking about something that has such a cult following like Stephen King’s It (1990). With such a well respected performance by Tim Curry it is easy to see that it was going to be a tough act to follow. Before going to see IT I was very excited since the previews were some of the best in recent memory but there was also a little doubt creeping in since there were several horror movies that had built up too much hype before being massive let downs.
I’ll try to give out some basic details of the plot without giving too much away. The story is set in Derry, Maine in the late 80’s as school is beginning to let out for summer. There have been increasing reports of missing children. Bill and his group of friends Richie, Eddie, Stanley are trying to figure out where the kids are going and avoid being harassed by the school bully Henry too much. As the summer progresses the group gains a few more misfits with the additions of Mike, Beverly, and new kid Ben. Each of the kids has begun to see scary visions and apparitions which all seem to be connected to the same creature known as Pennywise the Clown. As they dive deeper into their investigation of the missing children they seem to find more questions than answers.
This remake does have several strengths to its credit. The main group of kids played by Jaeden Liberher (Bill), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben) Sophia Lillis (Bev), Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Chosen Jacobs (Mike), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie), and Wyatt Oleff (Stanley) all deliver terrific performances as grade school kids who are on a terrifying journey. They show a wide range of emotions throughout the film. Another standout is Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. There were massive shoes to fill (ha) from the great Tim Curry but he definitely delivered a high quality portrayal. He is both funny and also fairly chilling in his interpretation of the role. I thought the pacing of the movie was another strength. The movie has a 135 minute run time but it zips right along moving from scene to scene and fright to fright. Those frights are indeed another strong point here compared to the last few horror/suspense movies I have watched recently. There is a good balance between suspenseful scares and the more traditional jump scares that had Mrs. Apologist watching from behind her own fingers.
There were not very many weaknesses but IT was definitely far from a perfect movie. I did happen to think that some of the scares were predictable. Some of the story also followed that same predictability but that is easy to do when dealing with a remake. While there were mostly high quality scares there were also a handful that just didn’t work out and came off as cheesy which almost brought down the entire creepy vibe the movie worked so hard to establish.
Remakes can be a very tricky bunch, especially when the first version was well received and generally well reviewed. Expectations that are built up pretty high can sometimes lead to big time letdown but luckily for us this movie packed enough of a punch to keep us entertained for the night. If you’re in the mood for some scares and don’t mind some occasional gruesome violence then I would recommend checking out 2017’s version of IT with a very respectable 2 Apologies.