Will “IT” Live Up to the Hype?
We need to talk about It. I’m talking about the novel by Stephen King. Which then became a TV Miniseries. Which is now becoming a movie.
I’ve read a lot of books. Trust me. I love reading. I love getting drawn into the story and getting emotionally invested. Even though I’ve read and loved SO MANY books, I only have one favourite book. Just one. It’s this one.
I first read it when I was about thirteen or fourteen. My Mum bought it for me and it took me about six months to read it. It’s a huge book and I was just a kid after all. But holy hell! I was invested! I think I read that book on average about once every twelve to fourteen months now. Here are some pictures of that same copy of the book that my Mum gave me.
Needless to say, I don’t read that one anymore. I don’t think it can survive another read through. But I won’t get rid of it. Oh no. It stays safely on my shelf where I can admire it from a safe distance. I have a fresh new copy to read now.
I actually started the book again a few days ago in preparation for the film coming out. I forgot how intense it is. It’s the only book I ever remember having to put down for a few minutes every now and then so I can take a breather. For example, the part where ‘Stanley Uris takes a bath.’ This chapter of the book is told from his wife’s point of view and it gives me chills. The build up, the way she tries to argue to herself that this situation is nothing, that she’ll feel silly when she realises she’s overreacted, only to find out that…(sorry, no spoilers here).
Chills, physical chills.
But that’s not entirely why I love this book so much. I think that, because it’s such a long book, you really get time to get to know these characters. The Losers’ Club. Their friendship is such a huge part of the book, not only in content but in importance. Their friendship almost makes them impenetrable by this creature. And the love. When you read it, you really feel the love. After spending all this time getting to know these kids and being a part of their group, I always feel a sense of real loss when the story is over. But that’s it. There’s nothing left to read. All I can do is walk away.
That’s why I keep re-reading it. There’s nothing better than being welcomed back into a group of friends that you have missed so much. I’ll never get bored of the book. I’ll never stop wanting to read about these people that I know now, so well.
I think that’s one of the things that fills me with trepidation about this new film. It has been said that this film is much scarier than the TV Miniseries. To which I say, great! But.
If this newer, scarier version of IT is simply a horror movie involving kids, I’m out. Because that’s not what the story is about. Or, not completely anyway. The TV Miniseries has not been that well received, being given only a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the new movie’s 97%.
Okay, so the acting was not great in it. There were cheesy parts and parts that were supposed to be scary but didn’t quite make it. It got a lot right though. For example, Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise is a LOT to live up to. Sometimes when I read a book and then see the character portrayed by an actor, I find it hard to merge the two into one single character. To me there’s just the film version and the book version which looks different in my head.
But Tim Curry’s Pennywise is exactly what it looks like in my head. They are the same character and always will be. I’m ready to accept this new Pennywise but I don’t know if I’ll ever see anyone except Tim Curry’s version when reading the book.
Another thing that this miniseries portrayed in a way that I was very satisfied with is the friendship of these kids that I keep rambling on about.
It makes a conscious effort to show the trials and tribulations of being a kid in what is clearly the worst town ever. (I wonder what this franchise has done for tourism in Derry). It presents these kids as troubled, needing each other and then makes them an unstoppable team.
What I found more important though is that this is carried on into when they’re adults. That scene where they have Chinese food together with ‘It’s Alright’ by The Impressionists playing creates an environment of utter peace. It’s quite juxtaposed to the tension of the rest of the film. But these little islands of joy in between all of the terror is part of what makes it so great. You appreciate seeing the gang relaxed and being able to relax with them, because of what you go through with them.
There is one thing that people complain about a lot in regards to the TV Miniseries. And frankly, I want to complain about their complaining. At the end of the film, IT, Pennywise turns into a spider and it is in this form that the gang manage to finally defeat it.
Okay, I get it. A seriously evil clown who plays twisted games and is always lurking eventually turns into a spider?! It’s pretty anticlimactic. Horror films about creepy crawlies or giant mutant creatures are kind of a dime a dozen. So to have Pennywise, a villain unlike any other, take this as his final form, could be seen as a bit of a let down.
Except, it’s in the book and really, its not even a spider.
Then Beverly was shrieking, clinging to Bill as It raced down the gossamer curtain of It’s webbing, a nightmare spider from beyond time and space, a spider from beyond the fevered imaginings of whatever inmates may live in the deepest depths of hell.
No, Bill thought coldly, not a spider either. Not really, but this shape isn’t one It picked out of our minds. It’s just the closest our minds can come to…what It really is.
The thing about adapting books to the screen is that stuff like this gets missed out or just doesn’t translate properly. The idea that It is really a spider is not that scary. The idea that no one really knows what It looks like because their minds can’t comprehend it, now that is scary. So the miniseries is often slated when really, it’s staying faithful to the book, which I appreciate.
If the movie doesn’t stay faithful to the book in this same way, I can live with that. But there are certain things that it MUST get right in order to achieve the Tamzyn seal of approval.
I hope it emphasizes the importance of the gang and their friendship. Love is a key part of this story. I also hope it’s not a run of the mill horror film. A slasher featuring kids running from a clown. Because I could see something like that anywhere.
And finally, I hope it’s creepy. I don’t mean scary, not jumpscare after jumpscare like most horror films have taken to doing nowadays. But actually goosebumps, slow realisation, I-can’t-look-away-but-this-is-awful creepy.
But pedestal for this story is pretty high but I’m willing to accept this new version. I’m excited but nervous. It has a lot to live up to.