Seven children encounter an ageless shape-shifting evil that feasts on the towns young every 27 years. This gang of kids known as the Losers Club, amass the courage and strength to fight this monster known as It.
Directed – Andy Muschietti
Genre – Horror
Starring – Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard
The 2017 film adaptation of IT might be the most anticipated horror movie that has ever been released. Originally announced in 2009, the film seemed to go through a hectic process of finding ground. The development of the film underwent the trials of new directors, altering scripts and finding the right actor to play the notorious Pennywise. It seems that first scripts took great liberties from Stephen Kings book and had a question directive. Actor Will Poulter was set to play Pennywise but later dropped out due to the severity and horror of the character. At least that’s the rumor I heard, but I doubt he would deny it.
Like many films, IT was becoming more talk than show. It wasn’t until 2015 that the actual production started under director Andy Muschietti. Casting of the Losers Club started and actor Bill Skarsgard would fulfill the role as Pennywise. A photo of the new Pennywise was released which ignited the movies anticipation. The image of the clown was highly praised for it’s new take compared to the 1990’s TV specials Tim Curry. This new interpretation of Pennywise seemed a more traditionally historic clown with a much darker tone. Unlike it’s predecessor that was more a jollier antagonist. Soon images from the set were being released and in March of 2017 a teaser trailer was shown. IT was one of the most well liked videos on YouTube. Later a four minute clip of the film was shown at the beginning of the movie Annabelle. The clip was used to increase Annabelle ticket sales because everyone knows the Annabelle movies are trash. IT was finally released to theaters on September 8th. Since then the movie is the highest grossing horror film to date. Scoring “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and even getting a rare approval from the creator Stephen King. Dang, not even Kubrick could get that.
I’ll start out by saying that I loved the movie. Although not my favorite horror film; I enjoyed this adaptation and believe Muschietti truly captivated what made the Stephen King book so great. I am a huge Stephen King reader and IT is my favorite novel. The book itself is a brick, over 1000 pages. A part from reading the book, IT will also help you lose 10 pounds from all the heavy lifting.
IT is packed with character development and slow paced plot structure. So, to turn this mega-novel into a film is an extremely difficult task. I liken IT to Peter Jacksons Lord Of The Rings trilogy. A task not easily taken. Not only is the novel hard to pull off on the screen but it has a certain “peculiar” fanbase to please. Talk to Stephen King fans about his books and it’s like opening up pandoras box. So does this movie measure up to the book?
My answer is yes. It’s very well adapted and sticks very close to the book. Of course things are left out and have been altered. But they are small changes that don’t effect the main points of the story. The alterations seemed fine and acceptable. The Losers Club was a huge selling point for the film and through them the premises like the bonds of friendship, defeating evil, sacrifice, pain, loss and growing up were handled well. The kids playing Bill, Eddie, Mike, Bev, Ben, Stan and Richie were phenomenal. The way they act together is priceless and it’s the driving force that makes this movie seem real. The film doesn’t pull any punches with the honesty of adolescence. They’re constantly making rude and obscene jokes to each other. They’re true friends to one another and the kinship feels eternal. For a horror film with such adult topics; it still has great humor. Any kid from the 80’s will be able to identify.
You truly cling to this group of Losers. You feel their pain, experience their fear and cheer for them to triumph. What I love is how they all have diverse plights. They all represent very well known and very real kinds of hardships kids grow up with. The only thing regarding the kids that I thought a downer was Mike Hanlon’s character. In the book, Mike faces extreme racism from Henry Bowers (a local town bully just as evil as Pennywise) and the movie didn’t show that at all. Instead his story is that he lost his parents when he was young. Henry Bowers is still mean to him but there’s no racism. There’s no deep seeded hatred from this monster. It kind of loses the “umph” to Mike and makes his story seem deflated. In the book, your hatred for Henry grows tremendously because of this. You love Mike for his honesty, his sacrifice and his love for the friends he makes. I didn’t really get that in the film.
Henry Bowers is another thing I wish could have been elaborated on in the film. Much of what makes IT so scary is the monster. But readers also know that as evil as IT may be, Henry Bowers is equally terrifying. With Pennywise you know what you get. A killer monster that wants to feed. Henry Bowers is an uncertain forest fire, never knowing what direction he’s going to take. His story could have been brought out more which would have made his influence from Pennywise much deeper and more terrifying.
Pennywise/IT was perfect. When he’s talking, staring, or just walking; it creates a great sense of horror. Bill Skarsgard nails the mannerisms of the creature. So much that it is really a shame the movie has so many jump scares. They kind of get in the way and make the movie cliche and yes the movie does get cliche at times. When all they had to do is simply rely on the presence of Pennywise. That would be my only “beef” with the film. Good horror doesn’t need cheap startles to create a sense of fear. I would argue that being startled is not really the same as being afraid or at least a lower form of fear. Maybe for children.
The best scene is where little Georgie meets Pennywise in the storm drain. Without a doubt one of the best horror scenes ever shot. There is such great build up to the inevitable that it will make you anxious and boom the scene ends in brilliant delivery.
IT achieves the impossible (or what I thought was impossible). Any true fan of Stephen King and this novel should be well satisfied with what they see. You can go ahead and make the typical argument that the book is better. Yes you would be right. The book is always better. That doesn’t make the movie bad, it just makes it different. Read Jurassic Park and then watch the movie. So different and they’re both great in their own right. True fans realize that some stories are too vast and deep. But when core themes and principals from the novel are brought forth; you can do nothing but praise the work that went into the film. I applaud this film. It’s scary, hilarious and a fulfilling horror story. Pennywise alone will give children nightmares for generations. Something I think we all should want for our children.