It (1990/2017)

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 (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 poor 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 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 many 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