Having languished in development hell for eight years the arrival of Stephen King’s 1986 novel It on the big screen couldn’t be more timely. 27 years after the well-received TV mini-series It returns to haunt a new generation.
Given the source material’s 1138 pages It is the first film in a planned duology (something last months ill-fated King adaptation of The Dark Tower could have greatly benefitted from) which allows it plenty of room to breathe.
For the uninitiated the film centres on seven kids in small-town Derry, Maine who dub themselves “the Losers Club” and battle an evil entity known as It which can take the form of whatever you fear, though It is most commonly portrayed as Pennywise The Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård – who never appears to be given the opportunity to leave his mark on the role).
Director Andres Muschietti (Mama) shifts the story from the original ‘50s setting to the ’80s and it works a charm, crafting a coming of age story (not unlike King’s Stand By Me) trading on nostalgia.
Clocking in at two hours and fifteen minutes It spends much of the films running time focused on The Losers Club individually facing down their biggest phobias.
These moments provide some well-timed jump scares yet it’s the personal conflicts played out on screen which are arguably more disturbing than the more obvious horror tropes.
Despite playing to convention, It does justice to the novels greatest strengths making it one of the finest King adaptations ever to grace the screen. Bring on Chapter Two!