It (1990/2017-2019)

IT (aka STEPHEN KING'S IT) (15)
D: Tommy Lee Wallace
Warner Bros./Lorimar (Matthew O'Connor)
US 1990
180 mins

Horror

W: Lawrence D. Cohen & Tommy Lee Wallace [based on the novel by Stephen King]
Mus: Richard Bellis

Tim Curry (Pennywise), Harry Anderson (Richie Tozier), Dennis Christopher (Eddie Kaspbrak), Richard Masur (Stanley Uris), Annette O'Toole (Beverly Marsh), Tim Reid (Mike Hanlon), John Ritter (Ben Hanscom), Richard Thomas (Bill Denbrough)

This adaptation of Stephen King's lengthy novel was originally broadcast as a two-part TV drama before it was released in its entirety on DVD, which may explain why many scenes fade to black as though it's about to cut to commercial.
As a TV movie, it's decently well made, though not nearly as scary as the reputation will have it, more creepy than anything else. The first "part" of the film is much better than second, in fact, if you switched it off halfway through you could call it a very good movie and save yourself 90 minutes.
Young kids in Maine are being murdered by an evil spirit which manifests itself as a creepy clown, and a group of adults who thought they destroyed it in the 1960's get back in touch with each other so they can take it on again. The first half (and better half) of the film is mostly flashbacks of the main characters' childhoods, how they became friends and how they thought they killed the evil clown. Unfortunately, in the flat second half, they've all grown into their 40's and go through the paces once again, only slower and with even more flashbacks, before finally deciding that the best way to get rid of "it" is just to go to town on it. Moral of the story: face your fears by kicking the shit out of them.
The book explains a lot more, but it shouldn't be necessary to read a book in order to enjoy a film. As mentioned above, the first half is great, but the second half is absolute dross, particularly the unconvincing and frankly ridiculous final 10-15 minutes.
6/10

Tim Curry in It
Tim Curry in It
You'll float too
You'll float too

IT (aka IT: CHAPTER ONE) (15)

D: Andy Muschetti

Warner Bros/New Line/Ratpac-Dune (Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame, David Katzenberg & Barbara Muschetti)

US 2017

135 mins 


Horror


W: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga & Gary Dauberman [based on the novel by Stephen King]

DP: Chung-Hoon Chung

Ed: Jason Ballatyne

Mus: Benjamin Wallfisch



Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh), Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), Jack Dylan Grazier (Eddie Kaspbrak), Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise)


The much anticipated feature film version of Stephen King's It, which originally hit screens in the form of a two-part TV movie way back in 1990. 

The original film wasn't without its faults. Though bound by restrictions on budget and violence, it still provided effective shocks, mostly due to the creepy performance from Tim Curry as the sinister child-murdering spectral clown. Still, the first part of the 1990 version was much more entertaining than the second part, which drifted into nonsense and wasn't particularly scary.

This 2017 update suffers from similar circumstances, except it's the opposite way. The first half is dire, suffering from some unconvincing acting and ridiculously slow pacing, only punctuated by the usual cliché horror moments and predictable jump scares. 

The story doesn't drift too far from the source material, but it's only half the story. Set in 1989, instead of the 1960's (probably to save on production design budget) only half of King's novel is focused on, following a group of school friends dubbed "The Loser's Club", who come together to defeat a malevolent spirit who manifests himself as Pennywise the Dancing Clown who comes out of hibernation every 27 years to feast on children. 

Perhaps this would have been a better film had Cary Fukunaga (the creator of True Detective) been kept as director, it's clearly his influence in the final hour which redeem this film, with some truly terrifying visuals leading up to a nail-biting climax.  Unfortunately, the final moments of the film are poorly done, throwing in a romance hook which feels more like a cockblock and leaving it open for a sequel because money is to be made from another film, rather than telling it all in one.

The CGI is often quite ropey, as are some of the juvenile performances, with only Sophia Lillis' performance as Beverly Marsh the real standout. 

Bill Skarsgård does an okay job portraying the evil clown, but he's creepy for the sake of being creepy, whereas Tim Curry's performance in the original was far more effective.

As far as remakes go, it's far from terrible, but one wonders what could've been had Cary Fukunaga been able to take it down a psychological thriller path rather than settling for the usual big studio blueprint.

6/10


Bill Skarsgård in It
Bill Skarsgård in It

IT: CHAPTER 2 (15)

D: Andy Muschietti

Warner Bros/New Line/Double Dream/Vertigo/Rideback (Barbara Muschietti, Dan Lin & Roy Lee)

US 2019

169 mins


Horror


W: Gary Dauberman [based on the novel "It" by Stephen King]

DP: Checco Varese

Ed: Jason Ballantine

Mus: Benjamin Wallfisch



Jessica Chastain (Beverly Marsh), James McAvoy (Bill Denbrough), Bill Hader (Richie Tozier), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike Hanlon), Jay Ryan (Ben Hanscom), James Ransone (Eddie Kasprak)


**SPOILERS**

When the TV mini-series of It aired in 1990, it was widely regarded that the build up was great, but it was let down by an anticlimactic and disappointing finale. I'd have to say that the same applies to this 2019 film (in fact, "nobody liking the ending" is an in-joke which is dropped way too many times in this film, when once would have been more than enough).

I didn't really think the 2017 remake of It was that spectacular, but it had a few good performances, built up the characters and tension reasonably well and had some effective moments. I wasn't so keen on the story being relocated from the 1960's to the 1980's, but so be it.

This sequel, tackling the second half of the book, has the "Loser's Club" all grown up and returning to their picture postcard New England hometown of Derry as adults to finish off creepy clown Pennywise once and for all.

They return with no memory of their childhood (except for one who remembers enough to take his own life) and are instructed by Mike Hanlon, the member who stayed in the neighbourhood to call them all back when necessary, and they must all find a memory from their childhood which has to be sacrificed in a ritual that will defeat the evil.  The various members then all go out alone, triggering memories from their childhood and making me wonder why 2017's part 1 was necessary at all.  They perform the ritual, which doesn't work and end up defeating Pennywise by calling him mean names... presumably because this is for the social media generation and calling people names is the ultimate offensive.

The film is just short of three hours and it really feels it, with the pacing incredibly slow as it regurgitates jump scare moments which are not really any different from the first movie, except here every scare scene is undercut by an eye-rolling gag which landed like a lead balloon in the cinema where I watched the movie.  I also considered it an insult in the scene that tried to pay homage The Thing, one of the greatest horror movies of all time. For a film about how the imagination of terror manifests itself, it should really have more creativity than plagiarism.  The casting and performances are the film's main asset, and they do the best they can with the script they're given.

All in all, if the good scenes were removed from this and placed into the first film and the film gone through a good deal of editing, this could have been a decent single film.  There really was no reason for this story to be stretched over two movies, other than the fact that Hollywood are incredibly greedy and want audiences to pay for the same film twice. I personally find that far more devilish than demonic, serial killer clowns.

4/10


Bill Skarsgård in It: Chapter Two
Bill Skarsgård in It: Chapter Two