By Loryn Stone
Ladies and gentlemen, horror-fans and clown-lovers alike, we’ve made it. On July 27th 2017, Warner Bros. finally dropped the first official trailer for the new version of IT. Assuming it’s not delayed, September 8th 2017 will bring forth a chance for the fear of clowns to be renewed in nightmares all over the world. A new opportunity for Stephen King’s vision of a murderous alien monster-man-thing to wreak havoc all over 1960s Maine, terrorizing children and having all the adults give them the biggest middle finger since the time the grownups pretended Freddy Krueger never happened.
1. Let us reminder ourselves- this isn’t technically a remake
Before we even get started with the trailer reaction, it’s important to remember that the 2017 version of IT isn’t exactly a remake. The original version from 1990 starring a nightmare inducing Tim Curry was a televised mini-series with a run time of 3 hours and 12 minutes, split into two episodes. I personally didn’t see this movie until 1995, I believe, and by then it was on video tape. PAL format, more specifically, with Hebrew subtitles, but that’s a conversation for another day.
My sister, almost four years older than me, was/is a huge Stephen King fan. I’m pretty sure she read the original novel, way too young, by the time we watched the original mini-series. And if she didn’t read it then, she read it immediately after. And like many King fans, or fans of any book-to-TV adaptation, she loved to tell me about the parts that were better or different in the book.
Having said that, I think it’s interesting that there’s going to be a new theatrical adaptation and yet Stephen King doesn’t have writing credit on either version. I thought I recalled hearing/reading that he was involved in the original 1990 script, but I wasn’t able to find evidence of that on IMDB. Bearing that in mind, I was expecting to find some sort of writing contribution from him on the 2017 movie, but alas, there was none there either. Interesting, but not a huge surprise to be honest. If I was Stephen King and had written those books all those years ago, I’d probably be selling the licenses like mad too. And this sucker has been greenlit since 2009. Hell, I first heard about it in 2011 and have been waiting patiently ever since. Needless to say, I’m excited!
All right- let’s move on to the trailer. (Linked here, in case you haven’t watched it yet).
2. What this trailer does well:
Off the bat I’ll say this- regardless of the cheesiness of the original, disjointed storytelling, or stiff/ dragging acting, there’s almost zero way for any actor to rise to the majesty that is Tim Curry. He was a kick-ass Pennywise. He was simultaneously adorable and terrifying. Unpredictable- giving you a mocking smile one moment, then growling with razor-sharp fangs the next.
One of the scariest moments in the original mini-series that always stood out to me was when the cast of kids were looking through the History of Derry book, and the pictures came to life. Pennywise was dancing around one minute- then he stopped and looked those poor children dead in the eye. He growled at them, a terrifying animal sound, hurried right up to the kids and told them he would drive them crazy and kill them all. A powerful and (what I thought to be) a pretty scary scene.
The trailer is edited really nicely. I think the timing and audio are perfectly set up to scare the pants off you. I really like the wavering voice of the kid who is narrating the trailer. It’s very natural and sets up that isolated feeling you have as a kid when you’re terrified of something and feel completely alone in that fear. Whether it’s because no one believes you, takes you seriously, or thinks your fear is real. I also like when Bill sees his brother George in creepy-ghost form. The imagery is dark and haunting.
The trailer also doesn’t show everything- I’m excited for what it doesn’t show. I want to see those sewer scenes. I want to see Henry Bowers and his gang tormenting the kids. And I’m excited to see the juxtaposition between the severe bullying from Henry and the crew (which I always thought was frighteningly excessive, the way he pulls out switchblades and chases them into bunkers and shit) versus the boogeyman boos brought on by Pennywise the Clown. I really like that IT is two horror films in one, and I think the new trailer touched on that. Superficially too, I think the kids all looked really good standing together and I liked that they didn’t show them as adults. The major focus on them as grownups was one of the places where the original mini-series fell flat, in my opinion.
3. What’s not so awesome here:
All right, so we found some good stuff in the trailer, which pleases me. And we found enough that as of this writing, I still can’t predict whether or not this movie will be any good. And I like that- I don’t want to walk into a movie thinking it’s going to be terrible. Otherwise, I wouldn’t give it my money. My personal opinion is that the original 90s mini-series was not perfect, and many parts weren’t even all that great- though there was much, much good in there. (Like when Stan is watching Perfect Strangers with his wife. So real, man. So real).
I feel like a lot of people are going to shit on the new design for Pennywise. Truthfully, I accept it. It doesn’t bother me that much. It’s different, sure, but Tim Curry was so scary as Pennywise that the actual clown design didn’t have to be so threatening. I’ve never seen Bill Skarsgard act before (though I’ve seen his brother Aleksander topless in many a show and movie), so I have nothing to go off. But my guess is that because he doesn’t exude the same power as Tim Curry, the aesthetic of the clown has to be a little more typical scary-movie upon sight. But those teeth are absolutely atrocious. Like he just looks like an evil Bugs Bunny. See? Twins, for real.
The constant chanting of “You’ll float too” is pretty horrible throughout the trailer. It’s like we’re at a football game and we’re cheering for Team Clown versus Team Don’t Get Murdered. Toward the end of the trailer, there’s a moment where a black blood-looking substance is pouring out from what looks like a cupboard or chest. That imagery to me looks very modern and inspired by Japanese horror films. I personally think it’s a trope that doesn’t exactly suit the IT universe, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and be proven wrong.
4. Let’s pray that scene isn’t in the movie
You know which one I’m talking about. The one that everyone who’s ever read the book loves to tell us non-book readers. The scene that takes place right before all the kids go down into the sewer? Okay, I’ll just say it straight out- the scene where six 12-year-old dudes bone their 12-year-old friend Beverly, one after the next.
Normally, I’d link the text to the scene. But seriously, I can’t. It’s too gross. It tries to portray itself like it’s this tender “oh shit, what if we die, let’s use our female friend’s body as the home-base of our brotherly love and bond.” But I just can’t get behind it. Let it exist in the book, and let it never be seen on film. If every version of IT that is ever made after this one is missing that gross gang-bang scene and is deemed an unfaithful adaptation, then fucking good. Let every version suck because it’s missing that scene. And really- I’m open minded. I understand many a weird thing in society. I would even appreciate a scene where the boys pair off and experiment with each other. But by using that poor girl as an object, she officially isn’t their friend. She has no use for them in their Losers Club other than a glorified underage jizz-bucket. She’s not a person- and hopefully, the new movie can make her more than part of the Bill-Ben-Bev love triangle.
5. Can this movie cover all the story that needs to be told?
Well, hopefully it can! I don’t like to read Wikipedia pages too thoroughly until I’ve seen the show or movie in question (in case of spoilers), but I did notice one interesting thing. On posters, the movie is called It. But on Wikipedia, it’s called It-Part I-The Loser’s Club. Does that mean they have two movies planned? Could that be part of the reason we didn’t see any of the grown-up scenes? Because they’re saving them for a potential sequel? Or was that something that was maybe planned when the film got the green light back in 2009, but something that needed to be scaled back or dropped for the actual release? And who will this movie focus on? Will it be Bill, the go-to hero? Or maybe we’ll shift to Stan and really get to focus on the tragedy of a young boy frightened to death and driven mad by something he couldn’t logically believe he was seeing…
Obviously, the film makers could probably cover everything they need to in two 120-minute flicks. But is this really an epic of Kill Bill proportions where the audience would care about two parts? The whole thing is intriguing, and maybe these questions will be answered in future trailers. Granted, we’re just over a month away from the film’s projected release- so will fans of the book/Tim Curry loyalists get the movie they want?
Or better yet- do we really want this movie?
Both on screen together? Be still my heart.
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