While it may not be happening on such an extreme scale, the remake of Stephen King’s It is already shaping up to be the Ghostbusters of horror reboots. People seem to be lining up to hate it before we’ve really seen anything. A lot of fans like to cite Cary Fukunaga’s exit as a reason to totally distrust this film out of the gate, but I’ve been at this Internet thing a while now and from what I saw at that time, people weren’t really willing to give it a chance then, either. By and large, people just don’t want this movie to happen.
There have been so many snap judgments based on what precious few details we’ve learned so far. Keep in mind, we have but a single officially released image. That, of course, is our first look at Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Clown. Everything other than that picture has been a series of set photos or pictures of the cast posted on the director’s twitter.
I get that people are really, really passionate about the original. I grew up with it, too. I think there’s a lot of good stuff in the original miniseries. Everything centering on the children is great. Tim Curry’s performance is legendary. There are some truly amazing sequences. I think It is absolutely one of the better Stephen King miniseries, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more.
And I’m not even talking about room for something better. I don’t care if a remake is better than the original, I don’t think that’s why they’re made. I just want to be entertained. If a remake can justify itself, if it can find a new direction to go in that doesn’t stray too far from what was there originally, I think it has every chance to succeed. At the end of the day, I just don’t think you can look at this 1,000+ page book and assume that there’s nowhere left to go or that the original covered everything of interest.
This is an adaptation of a book and as strong, though flawed in the second half, as the miniseries was, there’s plenty of excellent horror and character development in that book that didn’t make it to the screen the first time. I can’t wait to see what they do, but to make my point, I’m only going to provide reasons for my excitement based on things we’ve already seen from the currently filming adaptation.
At the end of the day, this is what It comes down to. Scares, clowns, spiders, any kind of effects we see in the movie, everything hinges on this group of friends and whether we believe in them or not. That first cast photo of the kids looks promising, but the most important thing was that I could take one glance at it and I knew who every single character was.
Anyone who’s had a chance to catch Netflix’s Stranger Things, you should already be excited that Finn Wolfhard—Mike Wheeler on the show—will be a member of the Loser’s Club. He’s proven himself as a young actor on the Netflix show which is gaining a ton of critical acclaim, which has also been described by King himself as like watching “Stephen King’s Greatest Hits.” It will be interesting to see Wolfhard change things up as Richie, the group’s comic relief.
Javier Botet as The Leper
When you’re looking at the R-rated, theatrical version of It, you’re looking for concepts and characters that could never have made it into the TV version. The Leper is one of those. It terrorizes Eddie Kaspbrack in the form of a leper who once made sexual passes toward the young boy. The fact that this creepy character will be played by The Conjuring 2’s Crooked Man is beyond enticing.
Wylatt Oleff as Stan Uris
Wyatt Oleff was the unsung hero of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, because this kid had my eyes watering before the opening credits even rolled as young Peter Quill. He plays a boy who has to deal with losing his mother right before being abducted by aliens, a grieving boy who grows up to be a hero. In It, he’ll have the opportunity to play a boy who is a somewhat unrecognized hero and who’s tragedy comes in adulthood, as Stan’s legacy in the story is that he is the member of the group who kills himself before facing off against It for the final time.
Owen Teague as Patrick Hocksetter
The inclusion of Patrick Hocksetter to this movie is extremely important. This means they are truly going for out-and-out horror because Patrick was the scariest thing about that book outside the titular cosmic entity. This boy rounds out the group of bullies who terrify the young members of the Losers’ Club, but even the other bullies are a little unnerved by him. He’s a true sociopath, perhaps even a little beyond that, having killed his baby sister just to see what it felt like, only to see that it felt like nothing. He believes that he has the right to kill anyone because only he is actually real, a twisted mentality for a boy of twelve. Teague’s involvement in the film can only be a good thing.
I know a lot of people are mad about this one, but I think it’s a great idea that only shows how much attention they’re paying to the overall mythology of the novel. In the book, the segments centering on children were set in 1958 and in the new movie, the stuff in the past is set in 1989. It seems random, but it makes a ton of sense when you factor in that the feature is coming out in 2017 and in the book, the adults return to take on It 28 years after defeating it as children.
The Attention to Detail
All of the set photos really show the work that’s being put into providing the film with both a small town atmosphere and a sense of truthfulness to the time period it’s set in. What’s really exciting to me, though, is the statue of Paul Bunyan that’s been built for the shoot. Many fans might not know this, but the town of Derry is actually based on the town of Bangor, Maine, where King resides for most of the year and has for decades. A few of the locations and settings in It are actually Bangor settings, one of the biggest being a statue of folk hero Paul Bunyan. In the book, the statue actually comes to life to terrorize poor Richie Tozier. I’ll be interested to see if that moment makes it into the adaptation.
Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise
I mean, let’s be real, everything hinges on Pennywise the Clown and whether or not we buy into that performance. I, for one, can’t wait to see what Skarsgard comes up with. He’s gotten a lot of notice for his performance in Hemlock Grove and I think the first official image of him in full makeup is excellent. This is a different sort of Pennywise than Curry gave us and that’s a good thing. Trying to emulate Curry’s performance would have been a mistake. I can only hope that Skarsgard took the role and made it his own. Pennywise is a shape-shifter, after all. He can be anything he wants and as long as he’s scaring you, he’s doing his job very well.