There’s no other character who could deliver the line better than Ritchie. He’s the comedian, the persistent wise-cracker with the thick Coke-bottle glasses.
“Welcome to the Loser’s Club asshole,” he says, seconds before smashing a bat against the side of Pennywise’s face.
That smashed over the face feeling is exactly how I felt walking out of the theatre after watching the latest remake of Stephen King’s IT.
I could write thousands of words about this movie, honestly. This book has been one of my favourites since I picked it up in high school. Its constant atmosphere of lingering evil, and its themes of facing your fears and the powers of love and friendship are things that continue to show themselves in all of my writing.
And I am going to write thousands of words about this movie, because it’s THAT good. However, I’m going to hit the theatre solo and watch it again so that I can really take it all in.
However, after having M read IT for the first time a few months ago, I’m happy that I got to go see it with her first.
For those who don’t know this story, about a shapeshifting clown that haunts the fictional town of Derry and uses kids worst fears against them, some people find it hard to believe when you say, at it’s core, one of the main things IT is about is the power of love and young friendship.
It is though, and it’s the fact that the Loser’s can defeat IT (or so they think) by banding together and facing their fears that makes the climax of the story so powerful.
I’ll briefly mention that the movie does deviate from the story a bit, but I’m not someone who ever has issues with that, especially when it’s done well. King’s story is LONG and there’s no way you could ever include all of it in a movie, unless you’ve got clearance for a 10 hour film. There’s also the fact that some things translate well in literature, allowing the reader’s imagination to run wild. However, these things don’t always transfer well into film. This is definitely true for IT, and I’m glad that the director stayed away from the more extravagant appearances of IT in the novel (I’m thinking about a giant bird specifically, for those of you who have read the book.)
With that said, there’s some additions to the storyline that I think fit quite well and don’t at all take away from it. For example, as many know, IT takes the form of what a kid fears the most (as the fear is what IT feeds on). Stan, one of the Losers, has this twisted women from a painting come to life and haunt him throughout the movie. There’s a brilliant scene where the painting falls from the wall and when Stan picks it up to hang it back up, the woman in the painting is gone.
NONE of that is in the book, but it easily could have been something that King came up with. It just fits.
Finally, any discussion of this movie can’t be concluded without talking about Pennywise.
In the original TV movie from the 80s, the character of Pennywise the Dancing Clown was made iconic by Tim Curry’s performance. In that movie, Pennywise was almost a comedian, constantly making twisted jokes and laughing at the Losers before baring his teeth and striking.
While Curry’s performance scared the piss out of me when I was a kid, I’m glad they eliminated this humour side of the things in Skarsgard’s performance.
The new Pennywise is nothing short of inhuman evil. It’s the best way I can describe IT.
I feel the clown appearance is the LEAST scary thing about him, and in fact, it’s also the only HUMAN thing about him. Everything from the way he talks, to the way his eyes move from Loser to Loser, and the way his body moves is inhuman.
There’s an amazing scene where Eddie falls through the floor at 29 Neibolt Street (right here in Oshawa *wink* *wink*) and Pennywise appears from an old fridge across the room.
The door opens slowly as Eddie lifts himself from the broken table. Inside the fridge, Pennywise is nothing but a twisted mass of limbs and a smiling clown face. His legs and arms come out curved, almost spider-like (DEFINITELY, spider-like, and that’s definitely on purpose) and all of his joints twist and turn nearly complete 360s until he gives a shiver and is standing tall in the middle of the room.
And it’s with this scene I want to end. Eddie is just about eaten for lunch as Pennywise unlocks his jaw, his rows and rows of teeth extending from his mouth to try and latch onto Eddie’s screaming face.
Upstairs, Bill and Ritchie are trying to escape the fun-house of horrors that is IT’s house. They run from one room only to be met with a wall of three doors. The first, marked “SCARY”, the second “VERY SCARY” and the third “NOT SCARY AT ALL”. So, being kids, they run for the third door, only to be met with the severed and screaming body of their fellow classmate Betty Ripsom who went missing weeks before. They scream and slam the door, Ritchie beginning to lose it a little.
Downstairs, Eddie does his best to hold off Pennywise as his jaw continues to unhinge lower and lower, revealing more and more teeth.
Back upstairs, Bill grabs Ritchie by the shoulders, screaming at him that’s it’s not real, It’s IT messing with them, it’s not real! They rip open the “NOT SCARY AT ALL” door again to reveal nothing but a closet.
On the main floor, Pennywise’s jaw snaps back, his head gives a sudden jerk to the side, as if someone just stuck an iron spike in his back. The look in his eyes is that of something that is both completely pissed off, but perhaps a little worried.
It’s so good! Definitely one of my favourite scenes in the movie.
I could go on for hours here. I will say I was left a little disappointed with the lack of character development. King’s novel is set from each character’s perspective as each of them encounter Pennywise in different nightmarish forms. It’s the books most exciting atrribute, in my opinion, but it could also be one of the movies biggest failings. It makes things feel a little rushed, a little cut up, as if something is missing.
And I guess something is missing, that being the other half of the source material when the kids turned adults return to Derry to confront IT upon its return 27 years later.
So, I still want to talk about the characters themselves, I can also say a lot more about Pennywise, the film’s conclusion, and a bunch of my other favourite scenes from the movie.
Perhaps we’ll save that for another day.
Thanks for reading!