IT – Part 1 is finally here! And yes, it was worth the wait. Will you love the new Pennywise as much as the Tim Curry version? You should!
IT – Part 1 is the new adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic horror novel. The book was first adapted as a TV mini-series in 1990. In other words, this new adaptation is very appropriately released 27 years later.
For the uninitiated; Pennywise also returns every 27 years.
The question on everyone’s mind is of course: Is the new Pennywise version as good as Tim Curry’s iconic portrayal?
The answer: Bill Skarsgård is absolutely amazing in IT – Part 1. Whether you prefer Bill Skarsgård or Tim Curry will probably remain a very individual issue.
When Bill Skarsgård goes to the darkest places with Pennywise, I am terrified! My only issue with the portrayal is when it becomes too high pitched and childlike.
There are maniacal moments that work for me because it terrifies the kids. At other times, however, it goes a little too far for me and my fear of him is gone in an instant.
A completely genius move from Skarsgård is his ability to make his eyes divert out to opposite sides. That’s a pretty cool party trick and definitely works for Pennywise in IT – Part 1.
Also, it’s a fun detail that Bill Skarsgård himself was born in 1990 when the IT mini-series came out. And now he’ll be responsible for scaring a whole new generation of kids.
Awesome performances from young actors
Working with kids is notoriously difficult, but when you get the right kids, the results are breathtaking. Just think of Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense or Jacob Tremblay in Room.
For me, the young actors in IT – Part 1 definitely deliver the goods. It was great seeing Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things again. He plays Richie, who’s the jokester of the “Losers Club”. The same goes for Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special). He has the role of stuttering main protagonist, Bill Denbrough.
Bill’s young brother, Georgie, is the first victim of Pennywise’s return. Just as we saw it in the first adaptation. In fact, the scenes are quite similar. With the main exception being that it is much darker and scarier this time around.
Another of my personal favorites is Jeremy Ray Taylor, who plays Ben Hanscom. Ben is the overweight kid, who refuses to be the victim. To avoid being a victim, he either does the smart thing and hides or the brave thing and fights back. Jeremy Ray Taylor is absolutely fantastic. It’s a performance with heart and intensity in every scene.
The same goes for Jack Dylan Grazer, who portrays the frail Eddie Kaspbrak. He perfectly captures the wise-beyond-his-years character without becoming annoying.
Mike Hanlon (the only non-white character in “Losers Club”) has surprisingly limited screen-time. Mostly because Ben is the Derry-historian in this version of IT – Part 1. This was a job the Mike Hanlon character took on in both the book and mini-series. In fact, it’s part of the reason why he grows up to become a librarian.
Chosen Jacobs portrays Mike Hanlon and we don’t get nearly enough of this character. Chosen Jacobs does a great job, but it is actually a “blink and you’ve missed it” character. This is one of my only gripes with IT – Part 1.
Those precious little details
A character that both stood out for good and not so good reason was Stanley. He’s the very particular and neurotic kid in the group. When everyone else just throws their bikes in the dirt – which happens a lot – he always makes sure his bike is standing properly before following the group.
Unfortunately, this precious little detail (which offered comic relief) is also why I noticed something that didn’t work for me. Wyatt Oleff is the only young actor that was a bit off at times. I know he can do the job since he’s already portrayed the Chris Pratt character Peter Quill as a kid in the Guardian of the Galaxy movies. In IT – Part 1, his more dramatic moments just fall a bit flat and stuck out.
And then there’s Beverly, who all the boys fall for. Either in a sweet and romantic way or as a hormonal fascination. Beverly Marsh is played by Sophia Lillis, who does a brilliant job.
She definitely has some of the toughest and more “adult” scenes. Especially concerning the toxic relationship with her own father. My huge wish, after watching IT – Part 1, is that Jessica Chastain will portray Beverly Marsh as an adult.
And we’ll be seeing more of Sophia Lillis soon on HBO’s upcoming tv show Sharp Objects. It’s based on the book by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Sophia Lillis will play the young version of the lead character. The adult version will be played by Amy Adams, who could easily portray the adult Beverly Marsh, as well.
My money (and hope) is still on Jessica Chastain though. It’s practically aided on by the actress herself, who keeps liking IT – Part 1 posts on social media.
A beautiful and much darker adaptation
When comparing IT – Part 1 to the IT mini-series (and everybody will be doing that), then this is so much better in every way. It just looks better, sounds better, and yes, it is better!
A huge reason for the much better end result is the brilliant cinematographer. His name is Chung-hoon Chung and he’s been working with Park Chan-wook for years. He did cinematography on Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, The Handmaiden and many more.
Also, IT – Part 1 obviously had a much higher budget than the TV production from 1990. Of course, this is part of the explanation, but mostly it really is the amazing crew.
And let me be very clear about something; IT – Part 1 may star kids, but it is not a movie for kids. This is from the dark mind of Stephen King and very much made for horror fans. There’s blood, violence, and lots of bad language. All the things we love!
Which reminds me that I should mention the “bad kids” as well; The bullies! Henry Bowers is played by Nicholas Hamilton (Captain Fantastic), while Patrick Hockstetter is portrayed by Owen Teague (Netflix’ Bloodline). They are both brilliant, but the stand-out star in the evil department is Nicholas Hamilton.
Now we just need the release date for IT – Part 2
Honestly, I do feel like a spoiled brat, but my first thought after watching IT – Part 1 was; So when is IT – Part 2. coming out?
Unfortunately, we don’t know when IT – Part 2 will be out. We don’t even know who will star in it as the adult versions of the characters we’ve meet in IT – Part 1.
What we do know is that director Andy Muschietti will be back to direct IT – Part 2. And that’s definitely a good thing. Andy Muschietti has done an amazing job with IT – Part 1. Here at Heaven of Horror, we just know him from Mama. Which did actually star Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Basically, he’s already worked with two people who would fit perfectly in IT – Part 2.
For now, you just need to make sure you watch IT – Part 1. If nothing else, just to check out Bill Skarsgård’s version of Pennywise to see which version you prefer. Not that you have to choose. You can have both!
IT – Part 1 is out in wide release in US theaters from September 8, 2017.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writer: Cary Fukunaga, Chase Palmer, Gary Dauberman (based on the novel by Stephen King)
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague
In the town of Derry, local kids are disappearing one by one. The “Losers Club” is a group of seven kids, united by their horrifying and strange encounters with an evil clown called Pennywise. They band together and vow to kill It.