We all float down here
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff, Jackson Robert Scott
Director: Andy Muschietti
Synopsis: A group of bullied kids band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.
Uncle Willy – writer, editor-in-chief, podcast personality
Remakes are a mixed bag for me. This is especially true for horror movies. There have been good ones like Evil Dead and Amityville Horror. There have been absolute gems like The Fly and The Thing. And there have personal catastrophes like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
Where does director Andy Muschietti’s It remake land on my remake meter? For me, it’s an absolute gem. It takes Stephen King’s original material, cuts it in half, and hones that half to a satisfyingly fine point. Fans of the original book and 1990 mini-series will find a new reason to love the source material. Folks (like me) who dismissed the original mini-series for being too much camp and not enough substance will willingly jump on board and never regret taking the ride.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick synopsis. The town of Derry, Maine has a disappearing-kids problem. A group of kids – backhandedly identifying themselves as the Losers – find out that they are all being victimized by a twisted dancing clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). Together, they aim to confront Pennywise and get to the bottom of the disappearances.
Stephen King fans will no doubt notice that there is a whole lot of plot missing from the original source material. In both the book and the original mini-series, the protagonists do battle with Pennywise in two different time periods, exactly 27 years apart. This narrative is halved right from the start, focusing on the era when the protagonists were young and out of school for summer vacation. It also moves the era from the book’s 1957 setting to 1989. The move gives It a vibe very reminiscent of Netflix’s Stranger Things, which is a good thing. The Netflix series makes wonderful use of the time period, and It does the same. It includes the 80s staple of a montage, and it accompanies the montage with a track from The Cure. The only thing more 80s is Monchichi!
(For a quick geek reference, an actual Street Fighter arcade cabinet makes an appearance in It. Those things are rare as shit, and THEY HAVE ONE!)
The similarities between It and Stranger Things don’t stop with the era and tense premise. Loser member Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) is present in both series. Here, he plays a wise-cracking, foul-mouthed teenager with rampant sexual thoughts and no filter. So basically, he’s me as a 13-year-old minus my urge to have a drink.
The Losers instantly become one of the best things about the movie. Everything involving them is incredibly heartfelt, portraying the motivations, insecurities, interests, and fears pubescent teens would exhibit. Their interactions with both themselves and others are very sincere and will elicit more than a few smiles during the movie.
The fears, however, are the most important aspect about them. Pennywise feeds off their fears, using his knowledge of what scares them to torment them throughout the movie. Richie, for example, is afraid of clowns. Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), meanwhile, mourns for his brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), who is among the disappeared children. He fears finding out that his brother is truly dead, and his search for answers galvanizes the Losers. Each of them has a private fear, and Pennywise knows how to exploit those fears to freak the Losers out.
As lovable and relatable as the Losers are, they are nothing if the main antagonist is weak. And seriously, not enough plaudits can be heaped upon Skarsgård’s portrayal of the demonic clown Pennywise. Fans of the original It mini-series point to iconic actor and British treasure Tim Curry’s wacky take on the dancing clown as a positive. And yes, Curry is immensely entertaining as Pennywise. But his portrayal of Pennywise was not sinister enough to elicit any emotion other than laughter. Skarsgård fixes that from the very instant he appears. In this adaptation, Pennywise is an absolute psychopath, hell-bent on feeding off the fear of Derry’s children. For Christ’s sake, he BITES THE ARM OFF of Georgie in the opening scene! And his later exploits will have people afraid of clowns (like Digital Crack mate Punisher) wishing for a gun and a blankie. Trust me, there are no jokes to be had with Skarsgård’s Pennywise. He’s a 6’4” MONSTER onscreen!
That’s not to say the movie was terrifying for me. It did know how to build tension in the moments where Pennywise stalked the Losers both individually and together. But I was never truly frightened. I ascribe that to the fact that I’m a jaded old bastard who doesn’t scare easily. There were one or two times where a jump scare caught me slightly off-guard (for the record, I HATE jump scares), but they were mercifully few. While there was no real terror for me, I can say that there was definite tension that occasionally got under my skin. For clown haters, I personally guarantee that you will shit your pants with such ferocity that the cinema’s floor will be at risk of collapse. Adult diapers should be chosen appropriately, preferably laced with vibranium.
Otherwise, the true stars are the Losers. Their awkwardness and growth reminded me of my time as a pubescent ball of hormones and hair. Their interactions are so real and so genuine, I couldn’t help but smile and, in many cases, laugh. Everything from Ben Hanscom’s (Jeremy Ray Taylor) puppy love for Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) to Eddie Kaspbrak’s (Jack Dylan Grazer) germophobia feels genuine. Their suffering – particularly Beverly’s abuse at the hands of her father – is disturbingly relatable. And their absolute terror at the hands of Pennywise feels totally authentic.
Overall, It is a great remake. It takes the original material, halves it to focus on one part, and does its best to perfect that half. The movie itself hints at the fact that it’s only the first chapter in the reborn series. The period where they lock horns with Pennywise as adults will surely follow, and that feels like bait for the sequel, which I hate. And there are some rough edges for me, like the personal lack of fright. But I was thoroughly entertained by the movie. Fans of the original mini-series will find a new reason to enjoy the new material. Those who dissed the original will find that this movie satisfies their thirst for a great Stephen King movie. As for me, I can comfortably slide this movie in with The Thing as a gem. I will also choose to focus on how Richie is an absolute geek-badass. If I were thirteen again, only with my current humor and lack of both filter and care, I would TOTALLY be him! And Pennywise is appropriately evil, which is a definite plus.
Punisher – writer, podcast personality
A special thanks goes out to Michelle for giving us the link to share It advance screening tickets with our Digital Crack followers. We will be working with her to bring more events like this one to you all in the near future.
As many know – or just found out thanks to Uncle Willy – I hate clowns. It’s not so much as I will shit myself seeing one. But if one were to stand beside me and try to act creepy or scare me, I will do some physical harm to it and run like a mad man just in case they’re like Pennywise.
I saw the commercials and saw the trailers for the remake of It. I was pretty much not giving a flying fuck because I did not care as much till I saw him in action in the commercials. Once seeing that, I knew I needed to see and review this movie. I went with my boys from Digital crack (Uncle Willy and Cousin Jose – also btw fuck you, Jose)!
Now that I got that out of my system, we were also joined by Monica – also known in Instagram as momovies_moe – and Karen who’s a huge movie buff and horror fanatic. As the lines were getting longer I was getting amped to see this movie.
We start this movie on a good note: Georgie gets his fucking arm bit off by Pennywise. Fuck my life!!! I was in shock and could not believe what I saw!! As I told Uncle Willy and Jose – aka TITS – I miss Tim Curry. Tim Curry dressed up as Pennywise is the reason I feared clowns until this movie came out. This movie reached a peak of horror and creepiness where I honestly missed seeing in other horror movies like The Thing or The Exorcist. I was pleased with all the jump scares it had to offer and the character build-up. The characters grew to the point where you can relate to them. You also feel some sympathy with the bully and why he’s the way he is.
This movie had no down time where it would get boring or wander off. Everything was perfect in my eyes, even Pennywise. It had the perfect blend of humor in all the right areas. Hell, there were times where Pennywise was joking around while being creepy. In one part (not going to say where), you see him eating some kid’s arm and waves it like saying hi to the kid. I could not help but giggle in fear, waiting to see what is he going to do next.
This review is coming from a man scared of clowns but enjoyed this flick to the point where I want to see it again. I’m giving this movie an official Punisher seal of approval to go see it! 10 outta 10!