Bad things are worse when they happen to little children.
Written by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis
Stephen King’s bestselling novel was released in 1986 and, in a testament to exactly how good it was, the first film adaptation was released just four short years later.
A picture may paint a thousand words but putting those words into pictures is remarkably difficult. CGI was in its infancy then, and some supposedly scary scenes from 1990’s IT, especially seen through 2017 eyes, are comical.
Horror fans needed a better version, more faithful to the horror in its cinematography. Argentine director Andy Muschietti, who did a largely flawless job with Mama (2013), delivers on most counts.
In the novel, the backstory going back centuries King embedded at regular intervals created a world rich with horror almost beyond compare. Despite running on 2 hours and covering only half the source material, IT: Chapter One only touches on them superficially and is poorer for it.
Certain parts of the book had the story narrated from IT’s perspective – it was fascinating! There is no such angle in either IT movie but I hope that changes with the second installment of this film. Perhaps even a reboot of the 1990 TV miniseries may be in order.
Although the novel and the 1990 film start in the mid-1950s, IT: Chapter One is set in the mid-1980s. However, the eponymous being is described as being older than our universe. It came to/crashed on primordial Earth at the place that would become Derry, Maine millennia later, and somehow knew that people would eventually come to exist on the planet.
The first records of sinister happenings in Derry began in the early 1700s when the pioneering settlement of 91 people disappeared with little trace.
Since then, more unexplained disappearances, gory mass murders, lone serial killers and tragic disasters have periodically ravaged the town, with Derry’s youngest residents the most likely to be victims. Often, adults seem to be hypnotized into either participating or being oblivious to acts of violence before their eyes.
In this world lives Bill Denbrough, a ‘loser’ at school whose life takes a significantly worse turn when his little brother disappears, the latest of many such young victims from the town. Months later, his grieving parents pay him little attention. Bill befriends six other kids who the bullies also pick on, and they band together as the ‘Losers’ Club’.
The group discovers that there is a pattern to the mayhem and murder – it appears every 27 years, lasts about a year, then subsides. By this point, they have all been terrorized by their own demons and realize that the same entity responsible for Derry’s tragic history and the latest spate of missing kids is feeding on their fears.
However, there is something about the union of the seven that makes IT fear them. The film concludes with their first confrontations with the entity, and how it brings the 27-year cycle to a close.Not all the members, in both the novel and the 1990 movie, live to rejoin the battle 27 years later.
What I really like about IT, is there is no waiting (only) in dark corners or for nightfall. No, the terror here can come at you in the nice, warm sunlight in the middle of summer; not with some obscure ‘thing in the shadows’ but the manifestation of your deepest, greatest fear right in the open. It makes you wonder what form your demon will take.
Chapter one of IT is well-done horror. Fans of the novel who know exactly where the story is headed might not experience the same scares as those new to the story (those lucky non-reading buggers) but by no means does it fall short of the mark.
No surprises that the film has become the highest grossing horror movie of all time, having already earned over $700 million worldwide. The next installment will only be bigger.
IT: Chapter Two is slated for release in late 2019.