Old and new “It” under review (contains spoilers)
By Lauren Engelhardt Staff Writer
Arguably, one of the most successful movies released in 2017 is yet another adaptation to Stephen King’s novel “It.” According to an article from The Guardian, the 2017 version of “It” has become the highest grossing horror movie of all time, surpassing 1973’s “The Exorcist.” Just recently, the film has grossed over $500 million worldwide.
What is peculiar about this movie is that remakes typically tend to underperform their originals, especially in horror remakes such as “Halloween” (2007), “Friday the 13th” (2009), and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010). However, the 2017 “It” remake has surpassed expectations and is considered by many to be greatly superior to the 1990 original.
One major difference between the two films lies in the fact that “It” is originally broken down into two parts. Part one shows a series of flashbacks from each adult and how they encountered the deranged clown Pennywise as children, whereas part two shows the group having to defeat Pennywise yet again as adults.
In the 2017 version, it is a linear storyline of just the childhood portion. A sequel is due to be released in two years plotting around the adult lives of the Outcasts from the one-horse town, Derry. For accurate review purposes, the portrayal of the childhood versions of both films will be analyzed, while part two of “It” (1990) will not be touched upon.
Both adaptations essentially share the same plot. Children go missing one by one in the mysterious town of Derry, Maine. A group of self-titled Outcasts band together after the disappearance of Bill Denbrough’s (Jaeden Lieberher) younger brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), to find and stop Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), the evil shapeshifting clown behind the tragedies that ensue following his appearance every 27 years.
THE CAST AND THEIR CHARACTERS
The characters from both films are the same on the surface, but actually have significant differences. For example, Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) now sports a cropped haircut due to her father sexually assaulting her and allegations of promiscuity at school. No such thing happens in the old version. Beverly is also kidnapped and killed by Pennywise before being brought back to life by Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) in the new version. In the old version, none of the children came that close to being victims of Pennywise.
Another example would be Mike Hanlon’s (Chosen Jacobs) character having no parents and essentially being self-homeschooled. The 1990 version also lacks the dispute between Bill Denbrough and Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), which is an otherwise major aspect of the remake.
Despite such differences, characters are portrayed ideally the same. Bill retains his tutter and difficulty coping with his brother’s disappearance, Richie his humor, Beverly her identity struggle. Similarly, Ben Hanscom’s weight and adaptation to moving into a new, strange town, Eddie Kaspbrak’s (Jack Dylan Grazer) health anxiety, Stanley Uris’s (Wyatt Oleff) religion and Mike’s struggle with his race and background are all kept the same in homage to the novel that started it all.
The new version, however horrific, manages to showcase the growth of these main characters as they deal with their insecurities to the audience. The faster pace of the original prohibited such.
Another important character worth mentioning is bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). The new “It” has transformed Henry into a psychopathic murderer, not just Pennywise’s pawn, who confesses to the murders of the children in Derry and is sent to a psychiatric unit.
This review would be a total let down if the main antagonist of both films was not honorably mentioned. Both Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgard portray their character creatively and differently. In the 1990 version, Curry’s portrayal was more comical, especially to people viewing “It” in modern times. Pennywise was once full of laughs and jokes and was portrayed in a more pedophiliac way.
Twenty-seven years later and Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise is much creepier and quickly prone to violence. Pennywise now dons a much more sinister look and is far more threatening and violent, emphasizing his malevolent thirst for children. This “It”affords Pennywise way more jump scares and disturbing ways of trying to get to the Outcasts, such as his encounter with Bill in the cellar when he pretended to be Georgie.
Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise takes the win as his portrayal is a much stronger testament to King’s profile of the character in the novel. The film’s R rating also establishes more freedom to make Pennywise and his nefarious actions far more disturbing.
The 2017 version did portray some original scenes in the same way, such as the iconic Georgie scene and the group’s pact at the end. One major difference in the Georgie scene is the gruesome depiction of the child having his arm bitten off by Pennywise before being pulled into the drain. Other than that, Georgie is chasing his boat in the rain before meeting Pennywise in an effort to get the boat back from the depths of the storm drain.
Time restraints were the likely reason that the original “It” did not include a now vital scene. In the scene, the children venture to Pennywise’s house and discover it is the meeting place of all of Derry’s pipes. In true horror movie fashion, the group investigates and are almost killed by Pennywise as a result.
THE FINAL VERDICT
When it comes to horror, true horror cannot be comical. “It” 2017 has fulfilled its duty to scare and disturb viewers to a greater degree than its predecessor, while also honoring Stephen King’s iconic horror novel in a stronger way.