It: Stephen King Horror Adaptation Exceeds All Expectations
Bill SkarsgårdFinn Wolfhard...
In 1 Cinema
Despite having spent a total of seven years in development and having endured a number of creative shifts in the process, It – adapted from Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name – has exceeded all expectations. Masterfully directed by Mama’s Andy Muschietti, the film is a frightening experience through and through; evocative and thoughtful, it is also a wonderfully realised coming-of-age story that’s both chilling and wonderfully acted with the Argentinian director cleverly – and effectively – finding ways to bring King’s one-thousand-page book to life.
The story opens on a rainy day with a young boy named Georgie Denbrough (Scott) mysteriously disappearing after playing with a paper boat that his older brother, Bill (Lieberher) has made for him. Months later, after the school breaks for a long summer holiday, Bill decides to form a group – titled The Losers Club – with a band of good friends and soon sets out to find what has happened to his younger sibling.
However, as he and his friends begin to dig for the truth, they come across a chilling discovery and they soon learn that their sleepy town is home to a creepy, shape-shifting creature called Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Skarsgard). As it turns out, this seemingly immortal being feeds on the children and gains its strength by feeding on their fears. The kids soon realise that only way forward is to stand together and face their fears and demons if they’re ever to find Bill and stay alive in the process.
Heavily influenced by late 80’s adventure films such as The Goonies and Stand by Me, It – considering just how terrible Stephen King’s most recent adaptation of The Dark Tower went down with at the box-office – brings in a whole new faith in King’s future book-to-screen adventures. Horrifying in every sense of the word, the film is faithful to the source material, with the exception of the fact that the story now takes place in the late 80’s instead of the late 50’s as King originally penned it.
Skarsgard is truly chilling as Pennywise, but the real key to the success of the adaptation is that it’s about the kids as much, if not more, than the antagonist of the piece. The script makes it easy to invest in the kids; themes like loss of innocence are at the centre of the film, making this more than just a horror film. It was never going to channel the full depth and breadth of the novel’s complex, human themes, but it has done as good a job as anyone could have expected.
This is of course only just part one and there’s still more to come; but there’s absolutely no reason to believe that chapter two won’t be just as compelling.