by Justin Johnson

“You all float down here” was a line that made an appearance in the original movie but never held the weight it does in the modern remake that hits theaters this weekend.  And that’s a fact for most of the movie, a depth of storytelling and scary moments that far surpass the original.  I was fan of the original but always knew it had its shortcomings (a more goofy than scary clown, a second half that never really hit home, and some TV acting that left something to be desired).  Rest assured, the updated version overcomes all these shortcomings and more.  First, let’s give big kudos to the updated Pennywise played by Bill Skarsgard (no disrespect to the great Tim Curry, but Bill nailed it).  Clearly, this is the clown we all imagined when reading through the novel.  Another big shout out to wardrobe and Andy Muschietti for bringing to life a clown that we can be afraid of!

I won’t be revealing any spoilers, but I want to share why this movie hits a big homerun.  They made it an 80s period piece.  Credit to Stranger Things which clearly showed there is audience for this type of material and It clearly capitalized on this.  So take some of your beloved 80s movies such as Stand By Me and Goonies and give them some modern horror effects while maintaining a very 80s feel and you get a recipe for success.  It’s been a LONG time since I enjoyed a horror movie.  I am not a fan of the modern horror franchise so for any fans of a genre once removed, you will surely find yourself delighted by It. Another aspect of the movie which just felt so right was the friendship the boys share, a bit like Sandlot but more crude, these boys clearly have a bond and share it over plenty of “your mom” jokes and other lewd antics.  The comedy relief from these moments really hit home even though they are a bit vulgar.

So take a Pennywise we can be proud of, a spot on 80s genre piece, a horror movie that does not resort to shock and awe to scare, and a timeless tale of friendship and you have why I believe It will be one of the higher rated movies this year. 

The premise of It is that something, some sort of “it” is terrorizing a small town and takes the shape of your worst fears.  The “it” feeds on your fear in your most vulnerable moments.  I can’t help but compare this premise to sin and temptation described in scripture.  Unlike the movie where it’s up to you to overcome your fear, it’s not within our power to overcome our sin.  Instead, in our weakness, Christ came to free us from our vulnerability and give us the ability to turn away from our sin.  In this case, we can look at our temptations and sinful desires and claim victory in Christ.  Freedom from fear indeed!

6 out of 7 – Rated R for language, crude joking, horror, and some adult themes, this is not the made for TV movie you might think is ok for younger audiences.  For those mature audiences who have been looking for a throwback horror done right and an 80s genre movie that nails it, do yourself a favor and enjoy a visit to the theaters this weekend.