I’ve been enjoying the last few years in this eighties renaissance we’ve been getting in film and television. Even though I was born at the tail-end of the eighties it fills me with nostalgia. IT (2017) is another example of how to properly give us that nostalgia. It gives off plenty of the vibes we got when Stranger Things first aired and you can see a lot of throwbacks to 80s pop culture. With all that said, IT doesn’t completely work for me.
There has always been a lot of love for the original IT miniseries back in 1990 with Tim Curry as the iconic Pennywise. I never felt compelled to watch that version because it just sounds like a mediocre tv movie to me, and I hear it falls apart in the second half. IT (2017) on the other hand is a massive success financially and critically. The film follows a group of young teens that affectionately call themselves “the losers club,” these misfits came together after they were all targeted by the clown Pennywise. Pennywise is a shapeshifter, similar to Freddy Krugger, and messes with the kids in a similar way. Unlike Freddy, Pennywise is in the real world and can strike any time. The beginning of the movie starts with Pennywise seducing the child Georgie, brother to the protagonist Bill, into the sewers with him. This scene sets our expectations for the rest of the movie. Let’s just say that Georgie clearly doesn’t make it out, but neither do our nerves as we watch the scene executed. The rest of the movie has us learn more about Pennywise and our group of “losers” as they battle fear-inducing scenarios set upon them by the killer clown. The ending results in a battle that was thought to have been won.. at least for twenty-seven years.
I think I’m going to be one of the rare people that like the sequel more than the original here. That being said there are a lot of little problems with the sequel. For one the opening scene is awful. The scene is just to let us see Pennywise again, but before we see him we are watching a scene full of dated homophobic slander and brutality. Next up we are given a glimpse into each of the kids all grown up twenty-seven years later. All of them have left the town that caused them so much pain and horror except for Mike. Mike wanted to keep an eye on the place in case Pennywise ever returned. Pennywise returns and Mike calls everyone from “the losers club” to bring them back so they can finally put an end to Pennywise. When they return it appears leaving the town years ago repressed all of their memories. After a night of bonding, most of the memories return and so does Pennywise. The movie then plays out structurally similar to the first, as each character must tackle a fear brought on by Pennywise.
I really appreciate the way the two movies come together like bookends. I wouldn’t normally like flashbacks sprinkled into a movie, yet it’s just kind of nice to experience these younger characters again. There are a ton of throwbacks to the first movie which complements the second with locations, and characters. You will also find a lot of laughs throughout, but they’re there at the expense of the horror. After watching IT: Chapter 2, I think I appreciate the first one more. That rarely happens to me, although maybe that was the negative impact of splitting the story into two.
I recommend checking both films out when you can, and maybe you’ll float too.