IT: CHAPTER ONE
The idea of a cinematic remake of It has been floating around since Warner Brothers acquired the rights in 2009. The one most associated with the property was Cory Fukunaga, best known for the first season of tvs True Detective (2014 ), which has gained a cult-like following. Fukunaga wanted to mount It was a two-part film the first part taking place in the 1980s, the second in the present and received Stephen Kings blessing. However, he departed over differences with the studio over their wanting to make a single film and insert more horror scenes whereas he wanted to make a character-driven piece.
Cory Fukunaga was succeeded by Andres (or Andy) Muschietti, a Spanish director who appeared with the short film Mama (2008), which inspired Guillermo Del Toro to bring Muschietti to the US to direct a big screen version of the short film with Mama (2013). I was not much of a fan of Mama but many audiences regard it as a scary film. Muschietti and New Line Cinema chose to make only one It film that focuses on the children and their encounter with Pennywise, while omitting the other half of the book where the adult versions of the kids return to Derry to confront Pennywise again. However, by the time of the end credits, we see that the title is now listed as It: Chapter One. Following Its huge box-office success, New Line and Andy Muschietti have announced It: Chapter Two for 2019.
For all the disparaging of the mini-series, I would venture as far as to say that I think the 1990 mini-series is a far better work than the film version. The film seems very reliant on it and even replicates the opening of the mini-series where Georgie is snatched down into a culvert by Pennywise almost shot for shot. The film also eliminates many of the same aspect that the mini-series did Pennywises manifestation as Famous Monsters from 1950s movies and the infamous orgy scene between Beverly and the other kids. The film does reintroduce elements of the book that were not covered in the mini-series the sexual molestation by Beverlys father is made more overt but not that many. That said, the film also changes the characterisation of some of the kids it is Ben rather than Mike who develops the fascination with the history of Derry, while Stans Jewish background becomes a prominent element, Mike is given a background working in a slaughterhouse, and Henry Bowers gets a cop as father. The setting has also been updated from 1958 to 1988-9, two years after the book was written.
One of the strongest elements of the film is the relationship between the kids. All are well cast and the film spends time giving each of them detailed characters. The best performer of the group ends up being Sophia Lillis and naturally the film focuses on the triangle between the various guys who have a thing for her. On the other hand, we have had Stranger Things (2016 ), which came out fourteen months before It It even casts one of the Stranger Things kids in Finn Wolfhard who plays Richie. Stranger Things essentially took the idea of the Coming of Age monster movie that King fairly much patented and cast it through a patina of 1980s nostalgia. Unfortunately, in coming out after such a hit show, It emerges as a lesser copy by dint of its timing. Not to mention that Stranger Things simply does the whole Coming of Age/80s nostalgia horror story with much more effortless ease.
The other problem with the film is Andy Muschietti. I was a dissenting voice when it came to Mama because there it felt that Muschiettis effects were processed jumpshocks, made without any real style and easily forgettable. It is more of the same. The aspect where the mini-series has it far better than the film is in the eerie balance of reality and illusion created by the creature. Muscietti delves into this a few times most effectively one scene where the bathroom of Beverlys home is splattered in blood but her father can see nothing but most of the time fails to create the memorable sense of disjunction that Tommy Lee Wallace did. Most of the sequences here are a parade of jump out and jab the audience in the rib moments created without much sophistication and moreover have been retooled so that Pennywise is constantly lunging out at the kids in 3D. The most ridiculous of these is one where a giant-sized Pennywise emerges out of a projector screen and chases the kids around the garage. This was about the point I gave up on It.
Other Stephen King genre adaptations include:- Carrie (1976), Salems Lot (1979), The Shining (1980), Christine (1983), Cujo (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), Children of the Corn (1984), Firestarter (1984), Cats Eye (1985), Silver Bullet (1985), The Running Man (1987), Pet Semetary (1989), Graveyard Shift (1990), It (tv mini-series, 1990), Misery (1990), a segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Sometimes They Come Back (1991), The Lawnmower Man (1992), The Dark Half (1993), Needful Things (1993), The Tommyknockers (tv mini-series, 1993), The Stand (tv mini-series, 1994), The Langoliers (tv mini-series, 1995), The Mangler (1995), Thinner (1996), The Night Flier (1997), Quicksilver Highway (1997), The Shining (tv mini-series, 1997), Trucks (1997), Apt Pupil (1998), The Green Mile (1999), The Dead Zone (tv series, 2001-2), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), Carrie (tv mini-series, 2002), Dreamcatcher (2003), Riding the Bullet (2004), Salems Lot (tv mini-series, 2004), Secret Window (2004), Desperation (tv mini-series, 2006), Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (tv mini-series, 2006), 1408 (2007), The Mist (2007), Children of the Corn (2009), Everythings Eventual (2009), the tv series Haven (2010-5), Bag of Bones (tv mini-series, 2011), Carrie (2013), Under the Dome (tv series, 2013-5), Big Driver (2014), A Good Marriage (2014), Mercy (2014), Cell (2016), 11.22.63 (tv mini-series, 2016), The Dark Tower (2017), Geralds Game (2017), The Mist (tv series, 2017), Mr. Mercedes (tv series, 2017 ) and 1922 (2017). Stephen King had also written a number of original screen works with Creepshow (1982), Golden Years (tv mini-series, 1991), Sleepwalkers (1992), Storm of the Century (tv mini-series, 1999), Rose Red (tv mini-series, 2002) and the tv series Kingdom Hospital (2004), as well as adapted his own works with the screenplays for Cats Eye, Silver Bullet, Pet Semetary, The Stand, The Shining, Desperation, Children of the Corn 2009, A Good Marriage and Cell. King also directed one film with Maximum Overdrive (1986).