By Harrison Majithia
‘IT’ had huge expectations to live up to. Whether it was the 1990 cult classic starring Tim Curry or the original 1986 epic by Stephen King – regarded as one of King’s best and my favourite book ever – this new adaptation, directed by Andrés Muschietti of ‘Mama’ fame, needed to deliver or risk being torn apart.
‘IT’ delivers and more.
The opening immediately sets the tone for the film; Georgie’s death is brutal, sudden and refuses to cut away. From the outset, we know that there will be no pulled punches.
There was no doubting that everyone in the theatre had been drawn in. The whispering from the back rows of the midnight screening audience had stopped as abruptly as Georgie had been killed by Pennywise. Muschietti had us in the palm of his hand, and proceeded to keep us there for the entire runtime. ‘IT’ never lets up in its pace, relentlessly keeping the tension turned up to eleven. Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise is an unstoppable force, always within breathing distance of the kids he hunts down and as terrifying as a clown as he is in any of his other forms – if not more so. Even when he’s not onscreen, his presence is always felt – and you never know when he might turn up.
The Losers (our heroes) are all introduced to us one by one; as are their worst fears. They’re all characters with their own distinct identities – however there were a few sacrifices that needed to be made to translate them to film, and I wondered if I was only attached to every character because I had read the extensive detail that King loves to include in his character work. Each Loser is given ten minutes of introduction versus the hundreds of pages in the novel, except Jaeden Lieberher’s Bill Denborough and Sophia Lillis’ Beverly Marsh. Unfortunately, this has the effect of pushing the others to the sidelines in some scenes, as it begins to become more about them than the group. However, The Losers are still a strong bunch of characters who all play off one another brilliantly, especially in today’s age of homogenous characters. In a film of flawless performances, ‘Stranger Things’ star Finn Wolfhard’s Richie Tozier still stands out above the others, bringing humour to the film as he did in the novel, and – in keeping with the lack of pulled punches – cursing and being as vulgar as any fifteen-year-old does when among friends.
The changes from the book felt like necessity, and I didn’t mind them – nor should any fan of the book. It was risky to change the time period to 1989 instead of 1957, however it becomes clear that the story is still intact enough to keep die-hard fans happy.
‘IT’ has already taken $179 million worldwide; its opening weekend hasn’t even ended at the time of writing and it’s already beaten ‘Deadpool’ as the highest grossing opening for an R rated movie ever. I can’t wait to see what Chapter 2 has in store. Head down to the cinema and float. Because we all float down here…