Monday, 11 September 2017

Beep, beep, Richie

I've been a massive fan of Stephen King ever since I first read The Shining when I was 15. I've read most of his work (except The Dark Tower series as I get intimidated by how huge it is!) and It has always been one of my favourites. It's the quickest I've ever read 1200 pages, I was gripped from the go. I wasn't familiar with the film version starring Tim Curry when I first read the book, so I didn't really know what I was getting into other than something about a killer clown. Horror is my favourite genre, I'm well acclimatised to it so it's rare for me to feel scared of a book. It is the only one to actually give me nightmares.

I'd heard good things about the original 1990 mini-series, but felt let down when I actually saw it. The book wasn't well translated to screen, it just ended up a confusing mess that I wasn't sure I'd of kept up with had I not already read it. The acting was corny, and Pennywise himself absolutely laughable, far too hammed up and not even slightly threatening. I'm sure it was good when it was released, but it hasn't aged well to say the least.

I was excited about the new film as soon as I heard of it, doubly so when I saw the teaser images of Pennywise. It seemed to be quite divisive. Some, like me, absolutely adored the new look. Others said it didn't look friendly enough and lacked the charm of Tim Curry's. As much as I dislike the 1990 version, I understand that view. He doesn't look friendly to kids, which is the entire point of him taking on the guise of a clown. But my biggest issue with the original version though was that he didn't look threatening enough. Him suddenly turning evil just didn't work, it looked like a comedy.

Having now seen the film, I love the new look, and the new film. I'm not usually fond of screen adaptations of Stephen King's work, the only ones I've liked are The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile which aren't really horrors. Most of them just don't work. I know I've only seen it once and am writing this liteally after getting back from the cinema, but I think It is already up there on my favourite movies list. It was that good.

It's been a couple of years since I read the book so my memory isn't as fresh as it could be, but it kept a lot of my favourite scenes and the plot flowed really well. I also prefer that it's been cut into two "chapters" - this film told the story of The Losers Club as kids, when they first discover It. The second will tell the story of when It comes back and they must fight it as adults. The book tells the two stories simultaneously, which works for a book, but not the screen which is where a lot of the original mini series issues lie as it confuses the plot.

I thought it was so well acted by the kids, often children in movies can just come across as obnoxious but everyone was perfect. And I love Pennywise, I'm not familiar with Bill Skarsgård's other work so this was my first introduction to him and I wasn't let down. Despite the previous concerns from other fans that he looked too threatening to appeal to the kids in the first place, he was charming when the role called for it. During the opening scene where he talks to Georgie, it was easy to see why he'd think to trust him. He was jovial and friendly and seemed like the fairground clown you'd expect, but with that ever underlying feeling that somethings off (and not just because he's in a drain!). And when he's haunting the characters he was feral, literally preying on them. His voice, his movements and mannerisms, everything was perfect. The CGI was really seamless to, it felt like he really was moving and elongating and transforming without a single thought of 'well that's not real'. Disbelief completely suspended.

There were the odd bits here and there that I felt could of been stronger or expanded on. Some of the characters could of been developed better (Henry and Mike especially), and I wish they'd spent some more time delving into the history of It and it's hold over Derry. I was so desperate for them to expand more on The Black Spot instead of brushing over it, of It's influence over the adults of the town instead of simply making it so they just can't see him. I also found the objectification of Beverly uncomfortable and how she was used as bait, and missed the overall importance of imagination. But overall there's so much the film gets just right and I'm really happy with it. I can't wait for chapter 2! And maybe with any luck they'll delve more into the horrors of Derry itself in that one (and I must re-read the book again!)

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