Audiences tend to have a love/hate relationship with remakes and reboots due to the fact that they’re often modernizing a tale that already has a special place within the viewers’ hearts. Often enough, they’re essentially the same, shot for shot, as the film in which they’re based, but with actors that the studios are hoping will help develop a fanbase amongst younger generations while invoking a sense of nostalgia for fans of the previous iteration without taking much risk.
In the other cases, the studios will attempt to create a new original tale that, while still remaining fairly accurate to the source material, still attempts to stand on its own legs as a piece of film history. Generally, these updates are the result of a desire to either reflect changes in cinematic technology, differences in political and socio-economic environments, or just to ensure that audiences are less likely to suspect what’s coming next.
And, in either case, there are going to be detractors who either wish that the film would have stayed truer to the original or would have pushed the envelope further so that the movie could have had a more modern adaptation.
This is where It has a little more leeway.
Having only previously been a creepy TV miniseries that initially aired on ABC, there has never truly been a big screen adaptation of the novel, which sees Pennywise the Clown terrorize the misfit kids in Derry, Maine. Sure, there’s some wit involved in crafting a story that can still manage to terrorize kids and adults while airing on network television, but as time passes, often so do the scares that primetime can provide, and the boundary pushing, minimum age requirement capabilities of cinema is something which the Bill Skarsgard led adaptation takes full advantage of within the opening minutes of the film.
However, implying that the film relies solely on gore and cheap scare tactics to help develop the horror baseline of the movie would also undersell a story that also seeks to examine the small town skeletons that so many other films leave out, one with twinges of racism, child abuse, neglect, and bullying that have helped develop the characters more commonly known as the Losers Club. So, disturbing are these dark underlying backstories that they often cause more squirmish feelings than even some of the gore of the film.
Fortunately, however, where the film succeeds in this regard is a consistent humorous presence (due largely to Finn Wolfhard’s Richie Tozier), which helps to lighten the mood without taking away from the more serious issues at hand, but, rather, helping to paint a picture of the children, how they interact with each other, and, more importantly, how they can find the strength to endure the difficult circumstances they are facing.
As a remake, the film succeeds in the fact that it was able to explore new territory regarding familiar characters while also pushing the story past the previous network limitations.
As a standalone film, it could very well be the best pure horror film of 2017.
It hits theaters nationwide September 8, 2017.
Image Credits: Warner Bros..