It, the novel originally written by the notorious Stephen King in 1986, first made its way to the big screens in 1990. The plot follows a group of gangly preteens, known as the Losers Club, as they each face an evil force that has cursed their small town of Derry, Maine and eats children. The age old force reveals itself in many different forms, usually taking shape in a child’s worst fear, though it is most famous for appearing as an evil clown named Pennywise. In fact, in the book, the creature even has the power of mind control and telepathy, though this is not showcased in either of the It movies. The film starts with the six year-old Georgie playing out in the rain, splashing in puddles, and watching his homemade paper sailboat covered in wax float in the water. The monster is first revealed when Georgie’s sailboat goes down a sewer. It is in the drain and lures small Georgie to his death by offering him his boat back. Georgie’s older brother, Bill, and his friends begin to investigate and find a pattern of waves of children disappearing in their town every twenty-seven years. In the older version of the movie, the gang gets back together as adults and goes home to confront Pennywise, but the newer movie does not, in all likelihood because it is the start of a series and will address this portion of the infamous novel later on. While an unpopular opinion, I personally favor the older movie. The original movie was rated 6.9 on IMDB and 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, while the newer version has scored 7.8 and 85% respectively. Even the middle school mentees in CBL’s Middle School Mentoring said they preferred the new one, and a surprising amount said it was their favorite movie of all time. The new It isn’t a bad movie (to say so is a sheer lie), but to say it’s the better of the two is outlandish.
The remake has an excellent balance of comedy and scare. Fright obviously stems from the child-devouring monster, and the comedy comes in during some well-written and well-placed lines regarding boyish immaturity and childhood ignorance. Though the internet claims It is pee-your-pants terrifying, I found it to be a good amount of horror without being overwhelming. On top of this, the cinematography was beautiful. While made in 2017, the movie is set in the 1980s and definitely looks the part. The film score played into the jump scares and added to shock value. While occasionally the use of computer-generated effects was very obvious, overall the movie is very well-done and I would even go as far as to call it a must-see. However, the old movie was better, if only for a minimum of two words: Tim Curry.
We all know Tim Curry. The razzle-dazzle person that he is, who inspired the whole world to love transvestite burlesque in his legendary role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. While Bill Skarsgård, Swedish actor and model, did a good job in playing Pennywise in the remake, there’s no way to compare him to Tim Curry. It can’t be done. In fact, in an interview with Us Weekly, Skarsgård said “We were making a new film, a new adaptation of the book. Of course, I wanted to bring something different and unique to it. Otherwise, I don’t see the point in remaking something. I hope that people can consider both performances separately and appreciate them for what they are.” Obviously he brought something new to the table. It’s a new movie, directed by someone else, created nearly two decades after the first one, and focuses on a completely different aspect of the character’s lives than the last one as well. However, I don’t think it would be completely out of the left field for one to suggest that maybe Skarsgård does not wish the world to compare the two renditions because he recognizes the enormous clown shoes Curry left behind.