Whilst I am a big reader, the idea of picking up a single book that sits at more than 1,000 pages has always daunted me. Yes, I have read many series that far surpass that page limit, but they are series, not individual books. I think the main worry is how can a single book go on for so long and manage to maintain not only the story elements, but have definitive character arcs throughout. Also it comes down to attention span, could I really stay focused on a single story for that long? Well, after watching ‘IT’ in the IMAX I am itching to read the book, salivating to get my hands around a copy more than Cujo after he was bitten by that bat.
This film is, hands down, one of the best films of the year. It is also one of the most well crafted, well told horror movies I have ever seen.
Going into this I knew that it was not going to be just another horror film, also based on its praise I knew that it wasn’t going to be just another Stephen King adaptation – Despite being a fantastic writer most adaptations of his work are poor. Green Mile and Stand By Me excluded – however I was not aware of just how well put together this film is.
Within the first few minutes you are tricked into thinking that this is going to be a slow-paced ‘watch the shadows’ kind of movie, yet that idea comes crashing down after we are first introduced to Pennywise who, after a very brief interaction with a character, shows us exactly what this film is going to be like. Pennywise is anxiety inducing scary. Whenever he was on screen my entire body became tense. The actor behind this iteration – Bill Skarsgård, most recently seen in Atomic Blonde – gives one hell of a fantastic portrayal. When I wasn’t hidden behind my hands he had me praising the producers and casting directors for not sticking with their original choice of Will Poulter (That kid with the eyebrows. Yeah, the first image you had in your head, that’s him).
Having never seen the 1990’s TV adaptation with Tim Curry I am not aware at how scary his performance is, now because of this film I don’t want to know. I love Tim Curry, he is a massive part of my childhood. Yet I believe that not even he would be able to stand up against Skarsgård’s portrayal. At just 27 Skarsgård has given a performance that will be remembered for decades. His voice, the smile, the fact that what he did with his eye was not cgi, still haunt me and it has now been about four days since I have watched the film.
Skarsgård is not the only one with a fantastic performance in this movie… in fact, I can’t think of a single individual in this who was bad, which is incredible as the main cast members are all kids. Now I’m not saying that all child actors are bad. I’m just saying that most of them are.
With a very few exceptions – ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Stand by me’, ‘Super 8’ – it is almost impossible to think of an ensemble child cast that are just SO. DAMN. GOOD. The performances of the kids within The Losers Club, as well as the bullies that harass them throughout, call in to question every other child casting decision made by the film industry in the past. They are just that good!
Every performance in ‘It’ is nuanced and believable, every actor effortlessly portrays their character traits without it becoming hammy or obvious with instances of such subtle and understated acting ability that certain “everyday” situations become just as scary as the demented clown that is attacking the town. Ben with the bullies, Eddie with his mother, and Beverly with her father are standout scenes within the parts of the films that deal with the day-to-day life of the teens.
‘IT’ is not afraid to shy away from some very uncomfortable subject matters, something that King has built a career from with his novels and something I am very pleased was put into the movie. Violence against the kids – whether physical or emotional, mental or sexual – is shown in very real terms. It makes for some uncomfortable viewing but that is the point. Not only does ‘IT’ manage to scare its audience with its supernatural elements, the real world implications of certain everyday scenes hit just as hard and remind us that, whilst a nightmare clown might not be stalking the sewers in reality, certain horrific things are going on behind closed doors to this day.
Despite the near perfection of this movie there are a few (very minor) things that I wish could have been slightly amended within the final product.
For starters the first third of the film feels quite clunky in places, this is due to the fact that there are seven main characters. Near the start we watch as each character has their own interaction with Pennywise. Whilst these snippets are equally as scary as the rest of the film they were placed one after the other with little connecting them other than the fact that all the kids involved are friends. Rather than flowing from one child to the other the scenes felt very stop and start. It would be; day to day life of child, hint at something scary, something scary happens, child escapes, rinse and repeat for next child. Rather than a continuous story it felt like they had brainstormed some scary ideas and bunged them in with little thought for narrative.
The other thing that I was not too pleased with was the fact that not all of the kids within The Losers Club had their time to shine, in fact only one really stands out as being somewhat left out. The character of Mike Hanlon, who is the only black character within the club, feels sidelined. His story is one of the more interesting out of the group yet it feels like it doesn’t get the attention it deserves, especially with the cultural implications his skin colour has within the setting of the film. However it is rumoured that his character is going to be a major part of the up coming Chapter Two so hopefully this will be rectified.
This film has gone on to be the highest grossing horror movie of all time, and it is easy to see why. The second the film had ended I was figuring out the next time I would be able to go and see it. Now, all they need to do is ensure that Chapter Two is this good, so no pressure.
Watch again? – Yes! A million times yes.
Buy on Dvd/Blu Ray – Yes.