Well, Wordpretzels, make my own sauce and call me Barry Norman, yet another film review, this time to see the much anticipated It, based on the novel by Stephen King. Now, Lady BSM isn’t into horror films, so gave this one a miss. I was accompanied by Master Johnny and Miss Cath, his girl friend.
I read ‘It’ when it was first published back in the 1970s – over one thousand pages long and telling a story stretching over 3 decades. It was enthralling, tense, emotional, distressing, uncompromising and terrifying by different turns. King is a prolific and hugely successful novelist and for good reason. I would go as far as to say his novels will be regarded in the same high esteem as Charles Dickens in time. He is one of the greatest storytellers of the century. He’s regarded as a horror writer, but his books are more than that. They’re not all about slashing and blood and guts, but contain many human aspects of hope and dreams, of failings and weaknesses, of fears and misgivings, kindness, love, hate, good and evil. I’ve read a lot of his books and experienced all emotions whilst doing so.
Like a lot of King’s stories, it’s set in Maine – in this case a town called Derry, where an above average number of people, especially children, go missing. The film makes sure you’re aware it’s 1988 – the significance of this becomes clear later. Like the book, the story begins with Bill making his young brother Georgie a paper boat, which he takes to the streets in the pouring rain to float in the rushing water running in the road gutters. Suffice to say, Georgie disappears and no body is ever found. Move on a year and Bill, a stutterer, is part of the Losers’ Club bullied by Henry Bowers and his friends. The Losers’ club is a group of disparate teenagers: Ben, the obese new boy, Richie Tozier, the cocky one, Eddie, the asthmatic, Mike, the orphan, Stan, the jewish boy practising for Bar Mitzvah and finally Beverley, the only girl of the group.
All the characters fit perfectly into the Stephen King mould, as with “Stand by Me”. Of course, Beverley is a stunningly beautiful redhead, attractive to her male counterparts, especially Ben and Bill.
The whole film is colourful and sympathetic to the King novel, but as we reached the 90 minute mark of a two hour programme, I began to panic. As far as I could remember (I read the book nearly 40 years ago) we were only half way through the original story. Let’s just say a sequel is not only likely, but essential.
The scary bits are suitably scary, the emotional parts enough to make me feel a little teary, especially the scene where Bill is confronted by Georgie, clutching his paper ship to his chest and pleading with the big brother he adores to take him home. This is one thing a King story can do, pull at your emotions without resorting to the usual American schmaltzy approach.
If it’s all guts and gore you’re looking for, this isn’t for you. Stephen King horror is very much like the monsters he creates – too clever, too wise to be that predictable, which is why they are so formidable and malevolent. Pennywise the clown is the epitome of this, feeding on your fears and the darker side of human nature – death, loss, guilt, physical, sexual and psychological child abuse, Munchausen by Proxy…
The film has its climax, the usual battle between good and evil, but like all good stories, there’s no definitive girl meets boy, fall in love, good wins over evil, walk off into the sunset, happy ending.
Maybe not even in It – Chapter 2…