Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Pennywise?

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s that time of the year to indulge in horror movies! So why don’t we revisit the latest two-hour ordeal of the revamped Pennywise resurfacing in the small, sleepy New England town of Derry?

Clowns. What is it about them that makes them terrifying? Stephen King knew what he was tapping into when he wrote “It,” which was originally published in 1986. Ever since then, the image of Pennywise has been burnt into the collective psyche of teens who first encountered it.

The 1990 two-part TV miniseries featured the oh so glorious Tim Curry as the menacing, psychopathic unearthly being from another universe masquerading as an eery-looking clown with a shock of red hair, sharp incisors and a thin smile. This adaptation amassed a cult-like following, and it was only a matter of time this iconic book to be remade to terrorize both new and old audiences alike once again.

This reboot presented a slightly different take on the source material, though without any major changes to the overall plotline.

Right off the bat, by shifting the story from the 1950s to the 1980s, we couldn’t help but compare it to last year’s sleeper Netflix hit “Stranger Things.” It certainly didn’t hurt to have Finn Wolfhard — Mike Wheeler in “Stranger Things” — playing Ritchie the potty-mouth who is part of the Losers’ Club that is up against Pennywise (otherwise referred to as It by the Losers).

Much like the 1990 TV adaptation, the movie decided not to include the most controversial scene from the book. For the sake of unity to escape the sewers after defeating It, the sole girl in the group, Beverly Marsh or Bev (played by Sophia Lillis), suggests to the rest of the group to have sex with her. Although Stephen King’s response to this controversy had a point, the removal of this scene did not deter away from the central premise of the story, and frankly, an inclusion of such scene would have made everyone involved in the movie and the audience uncomfortable, to put it mildly. Let’s just stick with Pennywise’s carnage only, shall we?

It was also interesting how Mike Hanlon’s (played by Chosen Jacobs) — the sole African American in the group who in the book is the main narrator and the unofficial historian of the Pennywise accounts in Derry — background was altered as well. You can check out a more detailed analysis of this change here.

That said, overall, the cast did an amazing job in bringing the characters to life. There were some speculations as to whether or not Bill Skarsgård would be able to fill in Tim Curry’s rather big shoes. Rest assured, his interpretation of Pennywise, with a more gothic/Victorian take instead of the drabby Halloween costume look, hit the right creepy, disturbing notes, building the frightful momentum until the very end. Also, all the child actors fully embraced their characters in the Losers’ Club, combining a sense of naivete and boldness that could only be brought about by naturally being, well, kids who are on the brink of facing adolescence, neither adults nor children in a limbo stage.

Not only that, as in a lot of coming-of-age stories, adults are either completely absent/distant or depicted as the source of real-life horror apart from Pennywise’s nightmares, as in the case of Bev who is clearly suffering from abuse (suggested sexual advances) by her dad. However, no matter what Pennywise did to stoke the deepest, darkest fears, the camaraderie among the Losers was stronger than the fears themselves. Only by working in a cohesive unit was the Losers’ Club able to break the Pennywise’s bloody 27-year feasting cycle. Defeating evil is a team effort!

So what is our final verdict? We can’t wait for Pennywise’s origin story in Part II. If you haven’t seen the movie already, your time is running out to catch it on the big screen.

In the meantime, we will fill our nostalgic horror void by watching “Stranger Things” Season 2, which is set to be released on October 27.

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