Released in 2017, “IT” is directed by Andy Muschietti and based on the novel by Stephen King. It stars Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Taylor, Wyatt Oleff and Bill Skarsgard.
“IT” revolves around the town of Derry, ME, in the summer of 1989 when a shape-shifting being named Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgard) was murdering children in the town. After Pennywise murders Bill’s ( played by Jaeden Martell) brother Georgie, Bill gathers his friends to defeat Pennywise.
Naturally, since Stephen King celebrated his 74th birthday this past week, I wanted to honor one of the masters of horror by reviewing one of the greatest film adaptations of his work. One element that makes this adaptation great is the setting, which is Derry, ME. It might sound boring on the surface, but one thing Muschietti and the writers remembered about the novel was that the town of Derry was just as much a villain as Pennywise. To have your town be the equivalent of purgatory is a clever move to make people feel for the characters.
I also like how Muschietti and the writers focus on the portion of the book covering the main character’s childhood first, as their adult life portion might have made the film too long. Viewers know these characters beforehand and therefore, will be more likely to care about the kid’s adult selves. Some of the characters are more interesting in the film than they are in the novel; particularly I think audiences will care more for the character of Stanley in this film, as they give him more of a backstory.
The horror elements of this story are perfect, giving viewers genuine frights. The cinematography, sound work and music all work to keep people in a constant state of fear. At times I felt like I was in a haunted house due to the extremely wild scenarios and objects including creepy paintings, doors with blood messages on them and headless soldiers. What makes the haunted house metaphor better is they are literally in one when they fight Pennywise, the filmmakers were aware of what they were doing. However, the best use of horror is Pennywise shape shifts into the kid’s fears, so the story is about learning to find your courage and confidence in yourself. With Bill, what he sees is about his fears and coping with the loss of his brother.
“IT” will always be my favorite of Stephen King’s novels and film adaptations. It represents Stephen King at his best: giving a good scare while also inspiring everyone to be courageous and proud of who they are. Even when many people try to shame you, remember to be proud of who you are and that you will have friends to remind you of that amazing person. I love this film and I hope you will check it out for a good scare and for the non-conformist in you.