Book and Movie Review: It by Stephen King

As I often do with movies based on books, I decided to read It by Stephen King before watching the movie. After 2 weeks and 1,138 pages I’ve come to 2 conclusions; first it is impossible for any director to bring the book to life in its entirety because of its graphic, sexual and truly horrifying murder scenes, and second Stephen King is either unimaginably talented or simply disturbed if not possessed by a malevolent spirit.

The story, originally published in 1986, is set in a haunted town called Derry, which boost seven times the average murder rate in the United States, many of the victims children.

Georgie and Pennywise the clown

The book tells the story of seven children now grown, who survived the attack of the presence haunting Derry. They had no name for the creature because it took many forms. They leave their jobs and spouses to keep their promise to return to Derry and kill “It”. The tale is mind-boggling because the characters have a lot of flashbacks trying to remember their past, and so the author goes back and forth between reality and memory in the middle of sentences.

The movie on the other hand is fairly straight forward. Released earlier this month, it focuses on Bill Denbrough, a stuttering 11-year-old boy who believes his brother George to be missing not dead, and his quest to find him in the sewers of Derry. Bill survives bullies and makes friends to create the Loser’s Club who join him on this quest.

Both the book and the movie are similar since they both portray Derry as being haunted by a clown luring away children with a balloon. However, the book tells the tale from an adult perspective, 27 years after the story the movie tells.

As you’d expect, the movie does not do the book justice and it would be too much to ask for. Black men burning, boys masturbating, and children having an orgy would have parents, TV producers, directors and censorship boards squirming in their seats. Lord knows I finished the book convinced that Stephen needs a psychiatric evaluation.

This is not to say the movie isn’t worth watching. It most certainly is. The movie portrayed each character with significant accuracy from Georgie’s yellow slicker and waterproof boat, the clown’s blue eyes, Richie’s “trash-mouth”, Stan’s struggle with his Jewish faith, Eddie’s overbearing mother, Mike as the only Black kid in the neighbourhood, to Beverly’s red hair which fat Ben loved. It is definitely a fair presentation of the original tale only the directors twisted it around to reduce the number of characters, and tell the earlier half of the story in a shorter time. A few examples are Bill’s bicycle and Patrick Hockstetter’s death which happened, but much much later in the original story.

Summarily, this story is about children but it is certainly not for children. I must agree with Seth Grahame-Smith and Barbara Muschietti the producers of the movie who defended their editing choices saying “those scenes didn’t really add to the main story” and I agree, a lot of the cursing and obscenities in the book could have been left out. I also expect that there will be a “Part 2” for the movie in the near future, though in my humble opinion, a miniseries would have been most appropriate.

If you like horror movies, It is showing in Genesis Cinemas tonight and guarantees you a good scare. If you read the book, your imagination will mess with you and force you to sleep with the bedroom lights on for a while. I know I did. If you have seen the movie or read the book, do let me know what you think.

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