Being that we live in a time where best-selling books are adapted into two-part blockbusters (‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay’, ‘The Hobbit’), there was no perfect time for Stephen King’s most popular horror novel ‘It’ to get the same treatment. Unlike other adaptations that want to bank off the successes of other two-parters in the past (They are slowly dying out, I swear!), ‘It’ has a good reason to be divided in half. Not only was Stephen King’s novel long, (I did not even have time to finish the book in high school near the end of my senior year) but it was the basis for a two-part miniseries starring Tim Curry as a devilish clown named Pennywise (Who is played here by Bill Skarsgard). If you have seen the original miniseries (which, I believe, many of you have), or have read the book, you can see that its story was made to be two movies. Whether or not you think so, this idea works and doesn’t make its audience tiresome. In fact, ‘It’ is one of the most consistently entertaining horror movies I’ve seen in years.
How entertaining is ‘It’? As panel ‘What The Flick’ mentions, ‘It’ is 2 hours long, but doesn’t feel so. There is a lot of humor which makes it feel like the Marvel movie of Stephen King films. I never expected this to be a coming-of-age comedy as much as a horror movie remake. Looking at the advertising, knowing the source material, and having seen the original miniseries, the addition of extra humor feels like it could drag, (or run dry) but it is quite enjoyable. ‘It’ is less about a creepy clown and more about the bond between six friends as they (literally) face their greatest fears over the summer of 1989 in the mysterious town of Derry, Maine.
What is special about the bond of children is that they are all outcasts. Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher from ‘The Book of Henry’) stutters and is mourning over the brutal murder of his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) by Pennywise (Skarsgard) the year before; Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is not just overweight, he is also the new kid in town, which makes him one of the targets of school bullies, Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), Belch Huggins (Jake Sim), Victor Criss (Logan Thompson), and Patrick Hockstetter (Owen Teague); the same could be said for Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), the only African-American member of the group, who lives with his grandfather on a sheep farm; Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), the only girl, who is dealing with womanhood, being called a “slut” by the other girls in school, and living with her sexually abusive father (Stephen Bogaert); Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard from ‘Stranger Things’), who has a foul mouth; Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), a hypochondriac who lives with his worrisome mother (Molly Atkinson); and Stanley Uris (Wyatt Olef), a practicing Jew. The relationship between these seven children, a.k.a the Losers Club, is more entertaining than the many scares this movie has to offer. Compared to the children in the original miniseries, these kids are given more energy and with an R-rating feel, they free to express themselves by saying what is on their mind without regret.
Not to say that ‘It’ is not without its creep factor. When the movie is not being drenched in bits of 80’s nostalgia while focusing on the children, ‘It’ manages to have an eeriness closer to a Tim Burton film, despite being directed by Andy Muschietti (‘Mama’). The lighting and atmosphere shine through when the AMC ‘Walking Dead’ level of horror-effects do not. ‘It’ also has a bit of a ridiculous camp factor at times. (There is a haunted house sequence that reminded me of Sam Raimi’s ‘The Evil Dead’ with its wild and over-the-top antics.) It would be crazy not to talk about the real star of the movie, Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. He looks the part and has the childlike nature, but he feels more like a ‘Looney Tunes’ caricature of Stephen King’s most frightful creature. I have to say that Tim Curry cannot be matched, and Skarsgard proves it.
‘It’ is making box-office records and still floating!, so there will, no doubt, be a part 2! What will become of the next chapter? What is in store for the people of Derry? We shall only wait for ‘Chapter 2’ to find out! Let us hope “IT” is a satisfying conclusion to a two-part movie (See what I did there?!)!