Andy Muschetti took on a momentous task in remaking Stephen King’s 1986 ‘It’, tackling the expectations of King fans around the world. It is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver within the horror genre: with a media storm that leaves little to the imagination and the dominance of realism through CGI and high-quality technology, the competition for award-winning fear-factor is fierce. Many have jumped on the trend of returning to the classics, but how well did the team behind It do in projecting the whirl-wind imagination of the fantastical Stephen King – especially one consumed by child-eating, dancing clowns? The answer is remarkable.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with King’s ‘It’, it’s a horror novel which follows seven children in the town of Derry who are being terrorised by a being they come to know as ‘It’. It, whom the audience first meet when he kills lead protagonist Bill’s younger brother, Georgie, primarily takes the form of a clown.
Eight years after Georgie’s disappearance, the teens are brought together by their shared horror, and, as It preys on them, the film follows each down their own unique story, unveiling their fears one at a time. The way in which each character is explored restores the good, honest storyline many modern films lack. Meet B, the ‘leader’ of the group with a stutter he’s determined to overcome; Eddie, the vulnerable hypochondria consumed by mysophobia; Finn, the sex-crazed comedian of the group; Stanley, who is haunted by the demands of his faith; Ben, the podgy victim of high school life; and Mike, the home-schooled outsider. Not to forget Beverly, the troubled yet attractive older girl who struggles against demons of her own.
The somewhat simple plot is wrought with dark and twisted events that haunt the young characters even before their encounters with It. Whilst they, united, deal with the clown’s terrors, they each fight their own battles, creating a story of pleasing complexity that exceeds that of the typical horror film. This gives way to an emotional rollercoaster which, even after the credits roll, leaves the audience with a feeling beyond just fear.
Granted, it has been criticised for its almost comedic horror scenes; but it would be doing Mr. King an injustice if the absurd yet somewhat brilliant hyperbolic nature of his stories was not conveyed properly. The scene where Pennywise the clown is dancing is so ludicrous and illogical that it verges on insanity – but what is a King story without the insane?
This film succeeds in delivering the novel that was voted number one in 1986, whilst boasting all the best elements of Stranger Things, just intensified and accelerated. The characters are developed as wonderfully as they are in the book, weaving in emotion after emotion, while the film also revives the long-lost genuine and honest method of storytelling. Whether or not one finds the film ‘scary’, can’t simply be the make-or-break factor when the production is so fantastic as a whole.