Hello Readers! First at all, I know I have been absent for ‘God only knows how long’, but I have been quite busy. Actually, I have already written 3 other posts but I haven’t had time to edit them and prepare the images, etc. Anyway, the topic of this post is about something that really touches soft nerves on me. Stephen King novels/ films based on his work.
Last Friday, Angelo and I went to the cinema to watch ‘IT’, a film based on Stephen King’s novel with the same name, also, a remake of the 90’s miniseries. As I expected, I was delighted with the results. As someone who is a big fan of King’s work and of this novel, I was happy with the film in general. But I noticed that a lot of people where harshly criticising it, so that is why I decided to write my own opinion and review. By the way, if you have seen the TV series or read the book, there should not be spoilers or any complaints about this review. HOWEVER, just in case, for some reason you haven’t seen/read it, YES, this post does contain information about the plot.
‘SPOILER ALERT’ (If for some reason you have not read the book/ watched the series)
First, I read the book back in 2014, I read it in Spanish, now I got the book in English but I haven’t had time to read it again. But, this book is amazing, I love it, but I must admit I am biased, as I adore King’s style and I could not criticise his job, or at least I haven’t come across one single short novel/ book I haven’t loved from him. So, my opinion is a comparison between the book and the film. But I will talk about the series vs movie issue too.
If you are not familiarised with King’s writing, he tends to be very descriptive, and gives to the readers enough background of each or most of the characters with introductions, which usually are connected to the main plot or flash-backs. So, for me, the way Andres Muschietti managed to explain the Losers’ members backgrounds, personalities and fears was balanced enough and complemented the film quite well; taking into consideration that King dedicated whole chapters to explain each member story. Although some of them vary a little bit from the novel, for example Beverly and Stanley. But, at least, I do think it is impossible to capture the whole essence of the book in 2.15 hours.
Now, let’s talk about Pennywise. Most of the viewers were expecting or are expecting to fear him as much as we did when we first saw Pennywise as children. Which btw, and do not take this wrong but I am not sure why many parents allowed us to watch such program. I mean, that’s not very responsible, is it? But anyway, too late to think about that now. The point is, at that time we were CHILDREN, of course we would get traumatised by a demonic alien who eats kids and before eating them, the clown feeds them fears so they taste better (Honestly, King S. King and his mastermind, just him could have possibly thought such a disturbing and amazing monster). No matter how crappy the special effects were at that time, because let’s be honest, if you watch the series nowadays, you do not get scared. Although, the trauma does hit a bit when we see Tim Curry as ‘It’. So, for me, Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise was very well played and portrayed. It does look different from Tim’s one, but hey, when I was reading the book, the Pennywise I imagined was also completely different. So, there is no right or wrong Pennywise, I mean at the end of the day, if you want to get scared by a monster clown, you MUST read the book.
Something that I liked a lot of the film in general was that the more crude, gruesome and harsh environment that is described in the novel was much better reflected in the film this time. Do not get me wrong, I love the TV series, but if you have not read the book, there are some bits that were censored from it. Like racism, antisemitism, homophobia, paedophilia, very descriptive violence and sexual harassment. These bits were not fully portrayed but shown in the 2017 adaptation. Particularly with the bullies’ personalities (a.k.a. ‘The bowers gang’), which in the TV series are more like a bunch of dumb and annoying lads; but in the film, they are real cruel and sadistic, like in the book, Honestly, this really surprised me as restrictions and censorship are stronger nowadays than in the 90’s.
The plot in general is the same. Same characters, at least the main ones, same story line. Do not expect anything g different, which in this case is good, as the novel per se is a ‘magnum opus’ and again I do encourage you to read it. It will blow your mind. There are certain parts of the novel that were removed, like Pennywise nemesis which I am not going to discuss any further, because that would be a real AWFUL spoiler, and its origins, which are also quite extended and for the purpose of a film it would not really have much of a relevance. But, honestly, I think both the series and the movie managed to summarise the book quite well without leaving too many holes in the plot.
‘END OF THE SPOILER’ (?)
But then, why are there a lot of people hating the new film? Well, as I mentioned before, I blame ‘nostalgia’. I am not a nostalgic person, I love moving on and enjoying the present, especially when it is about movies, music and just culture in general. I am a very forward-thinking person. But this is not the case with everyone. I do understand why a lot of people were disappointed. The thing is, you cannot get scared with a horror movie as much as child would. I mean, the film does have its jumping parts and moments when the ladies sitting behind us at the cinema almost left us deaf. Besides that, as an adult, and this is a very personal point of view. You cannot expect go back home and never open the tap again, or do not get a shower in the next month because you got scared by a film… It does just not make sense. I do understand that the nostalgia of that creepy movie which traumatised an entire generation makes one want to get traumatised again (…Because that makes a lot of sense… not), but we are grownups now, so no. If you are expecting to get that horrible, horrible trauma that we all got from the TV series, yes, you will end up very disappointed. So, my suggestion is, go and enjoy the jumpy parts, enjoy the nostalgia of reminiscing the characters, enjoy the dark vibe they put on the film and do not compare how scared you got when you were 5 to 9. I mean, what used to scare me back then is definitely not the same that scares me now. Like the council tax bill, a letter telling me to leave the U.K. or a bottle of wine crashed on the floor, that is FREAKING SCARY.
Here is proof that the movie is quite good. Angelo, whose parents were responsible caring parents when he was a kid and did not let him watch scary TV series, only watched the series a few years ago. He enjoyed the film a lot. He got the idea that ‘IT’ is an evil alien; he enjoyed the dark environment of Derry and its citizens. Summing up, he really liked ‘IT’ (see what I did there?) and he is not a big fan of super produced, full of special effects, non-historic based films. He usually falls asleep when we are watching any DC, Marvel, any action and destruction films. So, yes, I think that if a non-real life, non-documentary film passed Angelo’s test, IT is a good movie (I did it again!).