Book vs. Film – IT (2017)

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

IT (2017) is set to be one of the highest grossing horror movies of the year. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the film and if it does the novel justice.

I started reading IT in April this year and finished it in August – to put into perspective on how big the novel is. Stephen King is known for his never-ending imagination, and the detail in his novels reflects this. Each character has their own story: not just the Losers’ Club but seemingly most people in Derry, the town where IT thrives. You get a thorough character profile of everyone – leading me to have the most affection for Big Bill, a soft spot for Eddie, sorrow for Beverly and pure hatred for the psychopathic Henry Bowers. And this is where the film misses out.

The film and book both share something in common – they obviously tell the tale of the Loser’s Club defeating IT and the terror which unfolds. Both the book and film are terrifying and creepy (“We all float down here, and you’ll float too…”). However, the book switches back and forth between the characters’ adult and child lives, whereas the film focuses on their childhood experiences of IT (a sequel has been confirmed). It was clever how many hints about the second half of the story were apparent in the movie, but I won’t give any spoilers. Despite this, the film still seems rushed. The Losers’ Club members’ stories are slightly different from the book and are much less in depth. The empathy and emotion aren’t there.  You aren’t able to get a proper glimpse into the lives of the kids in Derry, you don’t feel the pain and sorrow of Bill’s mourning of Georgie, and you don’t feel any pure terror towards Pennywise. And that’s another point to mention – the role of Pennywise.

In the book, he is visually terrifying; a monstrous clown with blood smeared lips and wild eyes. He’s a shapeshifter that plays on your fears. In the film? Not so much. He isn’t particularly scary to look at. His look is cleaner in the film compared to the book. This isn’t helped by the media frenzy over how attractive Bill Skarsgård is (although I must admit, he is). Let’s take The Woman in Black (2012) as an example – the Woman in Black is never cast, so the audience never know who she is. The anonymity of the actor makes the ghost all the more real, more sinister. Maybe this should have been the case for Pennywise. But with all this aside the actors are going to get attention, especially as they are starring in one of the most highly anticipated and talked about films of the year.

Overall, both the film and book are great. The film does a great job in visual effects and I have high hopes for the sequel doing the same when we get a closer glimpse of IT as a creature. But the book takes you on a ride of emotions – fear, amusement, sorrow. The film just gives you a show and closes the curtains after. But the show is still worth a standing ovation. So if you’re a fan of horror, both the film and book are highly recommended. Just be wary of the difference between them. Grab your yellow raincoat and balloon, and get ready to float.

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