by Paislee House, Film Critic
As one of the most anticipated movies of 2017, “It” and director Andy Muschietti had a lot to prove. Muschietti’s name probably doesn’t ring any bells for audiences. He has only directed one other feature film 2013’s “Mama.” Though he’s a relative newcomer, Muschietti seems to have some good horror instincts and manages King’s sprawling classic in a sensible way. In an endless sewer system of Hollywood remakes, “It” manages to figure its way out while only taking a few wrong turns.
Horror and King fans alike have spent the majority of the year wondering if the remake will live up to the original. I am here to tell you that Muschietti’s imagining of King’s story is much better and scarier than the ABC television miniseries. Though I’ve never read the novel, it seems like the remake is much more in line with King’s story.
The remake is much darker and more intense, which is one of the ways it greatly improves on the original. Seeing each individual manifestation of It and understanding each character’s specific fear was both interesting and horrifying. Some of the scariest scenes in the movie were these manifestations. Most notably Bev’s bathroom scene. The aftermath of which is just as shocking and gut-wrenching as the scene itself. The moment when we realize only the children can see the havoc this creature is causing.
As the only female in The Losers Club, Bev is kind of the everything character. She’s smart, funny, resourceful, cute and a good friend. Every other member of the club has a crush on her, or at least finds her attractive (with the exception of Mike). While serving as a sex symbol to the boys, she is also one of the bravest members and most determined to defeat It, which is why it was hard to believe her as the damsel in distress. The climax of the film involves one of the most unrealistic parts. To avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss the moment, but suffice it to say that they should’ve used Eddie or Stan.
“It” also falters with the overexposure of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The character design is over-the-top with Pennywise now having a bulbous forehead and strange makeup. He is creepy, sure, but something about Tim Curry’s Pennywise was just scarier. By the end of the film, I had seen him so much that his creepiness had worn off. Though Bill Skarsgaard excels at playing the terrifying personification of fear, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by the titular monster.
Counter to Skarsgaard’s performance, the young cast proved to be a formidable force of acting prowess. The Losers Club was cast to perfection especially Jeremy Ray Taylor and Sophia Lillis as Ben and Bev, respectively. Taylor plays Ben Hanscom, the new kid on the block, who is overweight and spends his free time in the library. A classic geek. However, his character has an undeniable charm that I found refreshing.
Instead of being crippled by nerdiness, Ben is a *gasp* full blown character with multiple dimensions. In fact, his time in the library lets him show off his romantic side. Then there’s Bev. I mentioned earlier her display of strength, which is something that gets jumbled by the end of the film. Regardless, Lillis plays Bev with grit and fearlessness. I really loved watching her character develop onscreen and I loved Richie’s Molly Ringwald joke about her.
I’ll admit, I’m beginning to get really tired of people rehashing old content. Even when they’re good, something just always falls short. “It” is no exception to the trend. As a movie, the film is mostly good with only a few problems, but after it ended I just felt like I could have lived without it because another version already existed. With that in mind, “It” is a great retelling of a disturbing tale. If you’re curious, it’s worth the watch. Plus, we can’t let fear win.