MikeyB's Movie Night: It (2017)

Director: Andy Mushietti
Starring: Jaeden Leiberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgard

 I've been a gigantic fan of author Stephen King ever since I read his first short story collection, Night Shift (1978), when I was a teenager. Many of King's works have been adapted to film and television and have ranged from phenomenal to just downright awful. I've even covered his lone directorial effort in this very blog. Tonights film is an adaptation of one of his most popular novels: "It". The book has been filmed once before in 1990 as a "ABC Television" miniseries, and that version has quite a large following. I can't say that I count myself among those fans though. All the child actors' performances in it are stiff and unconvincing, and their adult counterparts don't fair much better. I do however enjoy Tim Curry's boisterous and bawdy performance as Pennywise. I think I saw it too late in life for it to have much of an impact on me and the fact that it was produced for 1990 television standards definitely neutered the book's bloodier aspects. When the trailer for this new version dropped, it promised a return to the darker subject matter of the novel. I am a huge fan of director Andy Mushietti's previous film Mama (2013), so I have to admit I was extremely excited to see how his take on the book turned out. So how does the finished product stack up? Where in the pantheon of King adaptations does it sit? Lets dive right in and find out!

 Maine, summer of 1989. In the small town of Derry, children are disappearing at an alarming rate. After discovering that the creature behind these disappearances is a shapeshifting clown, a group of seven friends band together to stop It.

 In my opinion the last great Stephen King film adaptation was Frank Darabont's 2007 lensing of "The Mist". Darabont is no stranger to King's works, with The Mist being his third film adapted from King's books. "The Green Mile (1999)" and "The Shawshank Redeption (1994)" being the other two, and all three of Darabont's films are some of the best movies ever made based on King's material. I have to say though that in my opinion, Andy Mushietti has overtaken those three aforementioned films with "It". He manages to walk that tricky tightrope of staying faithful to the original source material and bringing something new to the table. The film, just like the novel it is based on, is this strange mixture of coming of age film, and monster movie that surprises and delights with every twist and turn. All the child actors are pitch perfect and utterly believable in their respective roles, and Bill Skarsgard's performance as Pennywise is absolutely stunning. He has captured the character's vile hatred and hunger for the children perfectly and his on screen presence is nothing short of mesmerizing. On top of that he script is surprisingly hilarious and had me laughing harder then some comedies I saw this year, Korean cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung frames the film gorgeously, and Benjamin Wallfisch's score is great accompaniment to the horrors we see on screen. All this adds up to the best new horror film I have seen since The Conjuring 2 (2016). This is not only my favorite adaptation of King's work ever made, but is one of my very favorite films I've seen so far this year.

Trivia from IMDB for It:

 Whenever Pennywise's eyes look in two different directions, there are no special effects used for that. Director Andy Muschietti had planned on using CGI to achieve this, and informed Bill Skarsgård of this, but Skarsgård then demonstrated that he could do it on his own, and that is what is used in the final film.

 In Stephen King's novel, the Losers Club must face Pennywise first as children, then decades later as adults. This film only tells of their encounter with him as children. If it is successful, the filmmakers plan to make a sequel sets during the lead characters' adult years, when It returns to terrorize a new generation of children.

 Bill Skarsgård has described Pennywise as being, "Such an extreme character. Inhumane. It's beyond even a sociopath, because he's not even human. He's not even a clown. I'm playing just one of the beings that It creates. It truly enjoys taking the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt." Skarsgård elaborated on his connection to the children saying that, "there's a childishness to the character, because he's so closely linked to the kids. The clown is a manifestation of the children's imaginations, so there's something child-like about that."

MikeyB's Top 5 Stephen King Film Adaptations: