Bill Skarsgård transformed into the terrifying clown called Pennywise, a role previously played by the iconic Tim Curry.
Image from imbd.com

It is safe to say that most people cringe at the thought of movie remakes, specifically within the horror genre. We have all experienced too many upsets due to the recreations never living up to the original story. But, there has been a brief break in this stereotype thanks to director Anthony Muschietti’s latest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, “IT.”

“IT” had to reach a variety of levels. Before the release, there was already a renowned novel, critically acclaimed film and television miniseries, which established “IT’s” long lived fame.

“IT’s” horrifying plot centers around seven young misfits in Derry, Maine. These children face their ultimate nightmares due to being plagued by an evil being that awakes from the sewers every 27 years to feed on children. Instead of becoming another one of the missing children, the fierce group bands together and decides to figure out how to stop this literal monster and recreate the safety they once had. In a battle to overcome their own fears, they meet the bloodthirsty and kid-craving clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård).

To properly depict the battle with Pennywise, Muschietti enlisted an army of seasoned child stars to create a dynamic group. The main character, Bill, is played by Jaeden Lieberher, who is able to emulate true pain and suffering despite his young age. Bill has a personal vendetta against Pennywise for mutilating and eating his younger brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott).

Bill’s itch for justice and appetite for vengeance sparks interest within his small friend group. Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Richie (Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) join forces with Bill to take down the notorious Pennywise. Each member fills a specific role, which creates a Breakfast Club type of vibe that accurately portrays how they all fall into certain niches but when combined make a whole machine that cannot function when one is missing.

The group is made up of Derry outcasts that show childhood conflicts that consist of bullying, trauma and abuse which provide a realistic backdrop for the fictionally morbid visions of King and Muschietti. With this terrifying plot and impeccable cast, “IT” was set for instant success.

Even though Muschietti had many forces working against him, his creation delivered the horror that fans are constantly seeking by narrowing the focus of this film. The original version is a classic, but it is over three hours long and abruptly jumps between time. The choppy time switches made the original “IT” difficult and tiring to follow at times. The flashbacks serve an important purpose of explaining the story from the group’s childhood and adult perspective. This original plot works well on paper, but is much more challenging to portray on screen.

So, Muschietti provided the best fix for this noticeable flaw by focusing on the group’s childhood plights with Pennywise, murder, and dismay. Although most people also are hesitant when directors leave out parts of the original story, this plot did not stray from it completely; it only focused on one of the provided timelines instead of both. This smart decision results in a consistent plot that helps the viewer become lost in terror and suspense.

Since “IT’s” plot flows more smoothly, Muschietti was able to unleash and depict gut- wrenching scares that create a new meaning for childhood nightmares. The unimaginable horror stems from Pennywise of course, but in different ways than past performances. Skarsgård’s version of Pennywise is more inhuman and merciless, which differs from Tim Curry’s portrayal in the miniseries.

In older versions of this film, actors like Curry made Pennywise seem human but horrifying. This aspect created fear for viewers, but they were still able to separate the façade from reality. With Skarsgård, Pennywise becomes supernatural and unstoppable, which evokes a type of fear that is inescapable and different from past adaptations.

Overall, Anthony Muschietti’s version of “IT” is worth the scare. His minor tweaks provide the perfect transition from novel to screen and still give the original the respect it deserves. Through macabre nightmares and a killer clown, “IT” succeeds independently of prior adaptations and is the perfect jumping off point for the rumored sequel.