Stephen King is considered one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century. In a career spanning almost 40 years he has written over 57 novels and 200 short stories. As fabled as his writing is, however, it’s the screen adaptations of his work that could yet prove to be the cornerstone of his career.
His novels, and short stories, have been transformed through the lense of visionary directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Frank Darabont into some of the most encapsulating movies of our time. It’s a marvel to think that concepts such as that of The Shining, Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption could all have come from the mind of one individual. The latest cinema release of King’s books is ‘IT’.
‘IT’, directed by Andrés Muschietti, is set in the 1970s, and tells the story of a group of children, known as the losers club, from Derry, Maine, who find their town being ravaged by an evil clown know as Pennywise. The children set out to rid themselves of the clown using only their courage, heart and rocks. The young actors do especially well in concocting the fear in which their characters must have felt. There are no moments where a casting discrepancy is noted or garnered, and the aesthetic of the town and its landscape really does encapsulate the time in which it is set.
The film is not as terrifying as the trailers suggested, however. The scenes which are meant to be their most terrifying come across as creepy and grotesque, but there is no moment in the film where this writer felt an urge to leave or felt in danger, as exceptional horror movies often make you feel. There is also an issue with the bullies of the movie – the audience is never given a chance to truly understand why Henry Bowers and his crew terrorise the members of the losers club, or why Bowers himself feels the need to carry a scalping knife around with him at all times. Bowers’ character resorts to drastic, life-endangering actions far too easily in the movie, and you get the sense that more of a backstory was created for the character but was left on the cutting room floor.
The performance by Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise is phenomenal, and will undoubtedly prove to be the defining role of his career. The visual effects of this moving were also a treat. Overall, the movie is highly entertaining and is the best release of this Halloween season. With ‘IT 2’ scheduled to arrive in 2019, it is already being earmarked and one of the top releases of the year. ⅘*s