As an ardent horror fan and an avid reader, I read several Stephen King novels in my youth. Surprisingly, however, I’d never gotten around to reading one of King’s most renowned books, “It.” So when the trailer for the movie adaptation of “It” was released back in March, I immediately stepped out to purchase the 1000 plus page book. My perception of “It” was that it was simply a tale of a creepy clown terrorizing kids in the town of Derry. I was in for a surprise. “It” goes above and beyond what one might expect from a horror book, but then again this is Stephen King we’re talking about. Once I was done with the book, I began to wonder how the movie’s director could possibly do justice to all of the intricacies of the plot. I’m glad to report that I left the theater this weekend feeling satisfied by the adaptation.
“It” begins with a very violent scene involving little Georgie’s untimely encounter with Pennywise the Dancing Clown. In spite of the shocking and graphic depiction of Georgie’s death, the morose beginning of the movie didn’t overcast the rest of the film. I felt strong “Stranger Things” vibes as I watched the movie — watching the seven kids riding their bikes set in the 50’s in a Hawkins-ish town named Derry, I couldn’t help but connect the movie to the TV show.
The fact that the wisecracking character Richie Tozier is played by “Stranger Things”’ Finn Wolfhard further connects the two fictional worlds. It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg dilemma, but it can be concluded that “Stranger Things” was heavily inspired by the book, and in turn, the friendly banter between the Losers’ Club reflects the similar dynamics between the four kids in “Stranger Things.” If you can’t wait for Halloween time to get your “Stranger Things” fix, watching “It” will give you the coming-of-age-meets-horror fix that you crave.
Given that horror films in the last couple of years focus on packing in a ton of jump scares and cheap thrills in a short period of time, it was refreshing to watch a movie that gave just as much attention to fleshing out the relationship between the kids as it did to revealing Pennywise the Dancing Clown’s several avatars. The movie has had to make several cuts from the books, switch up the fears of each of the children that Pennywise shape shifts into, and change certain plot points, but the outcome has been a cohesive success. Ultimately, the movie is a saner and more digestible version of the book.
“It” creates a sophisticated balance between humor and horror; you’ll find yourself laughing at the kids’ dialogue during a particularly threatening confrontation with It. It’s a great watch, especially if you don’t want to suffer from sleepless nights and have your dreams haunted by a killer clown. The way the movie unfolds, you realize that the kids don’t fear Pennywise and neither should you. The end of the movie reveals that this is simply the first chapter of “It,” and that the next movie focuses on the “27 years later” part of the books, when the now 40-year-old members of the Losers’ Club reunite to bring an end to It once and for all.