Bill Denbrough -
Ben Hanscom -
Beverley Marsh -
Richard Tozier -
Eddie Kaspbrak -
Stan Uris -
Mike Hanlon -
Audra Denborough -
Bill (aged 12) -
Richie (aged 12) -
OTHER STEPHEN KING SHOWS
Salem's Lot '79
Salem's Lot '04
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
OTHER HORROR SHOWS
Six successful people get a call from a man they don't remember at first, a call that reminds them of a promise they made when they were children, a promise to come back if 'IT' wasn't dead. Children in the town of Derry, Maine are disappearing and dying. It's the same as a series of killings that happened thirty years previously when they were all 12, one of the victims being Bill Denborough's brother George. Back then, all of the kids were visited by visions of blood and a scary clown that could be anything it wanted to be. They were young enough to see it, but not young enough to be fooled. Together, they all went down into the sewers to try and kill it.
IT is one of Stephen King's doorstep-sized novels (912 pages in the edition on our bookshelves). It's an evocative paeon to the glory of childhood friendships and more innocent times. Oh and there's a scary clown that keeps popping up to spoil it. IT is one of the few Stephen King books where you wish there wasn't any horror element. The kids and their relationships is what makes it work.
At least the TV adaptation tries to keep in that element of the book, but it is inevitable that it is the horror that dominates. It's a given that clowns are bloody scary and Tim Curry (unrecognisable under all the makeup) has a good stab at being silly one moment and scary as hell the next, but it doesn't work. It doesn't help that some of the clown's disguises are very poorly realised. A skeleton from the lake is risible in its mechanically-limited movements and the disappearance of the clown down a hole in the sewers is dreadful (and that's being kind to it).
The story structure, told in fragmented flashbacks as each of the grown ups gets the call and flashes back to that earlier time when they found friends and fought a monster. We get to know the kids, but the grown ups share too little screen time to make an impact. The child actors try hard, but their success is varied and they can't manage to distract from some of the more bizarre aspects of the story. As in the book, it is the simple childhood things that impress rather than the horror.
Once the kids go down into the sewer, the audience does get gripped by the desire to see the creature, but it appears only as light in pipes, quite effective but less than we were hoping to see. It is a two-part story after all.Top
The adult members of the losers' club arrive in Derry and each has a disturbing encounter with Pennywise. The clown warns them to leave, and they all consider it quite seriously, especially when the severed head of Stan is found in the fridge. Mike fills them in on the last details of what happened in the summer of thirty years ago before being attacked by a lunatic under the influence of Pennywise. Five of the original six head back down into the sewers to find the monster and to kill it once and for all.
The focus moves from the kids to the adults and the horror comes right to the fore. As this is the aspect of the book that is the least effective it means that the second episode is less atmospheric, even though it moves faster and feels half as long. The adult actors are as patchy as their younger counterparts, some convincing, some hamming it up to the point of cartoon characters.
Some of the mind tricks played by Pennywise are quite disturbing (the clown showing Bill seven graves, one filled or Beverly's encounter with a seemingly nice old lady, the fortune cookie), but the group spend too long talking about being scared before they finally head down into the sewer, the lumpy script too clumsy for even the better actors to succeed with.
When they finally do descend into the creature's lair they get to see the real face of Pennywise the clown and it turns out to be a giant, armoured spider thing from outer space that is even less convincing here than it was on the page. Cheap stop motion effects hit a real low point here, leaving the audience wondering why they wasted three hours of their life on this thing.
It takes more than three hours to read the book, but it's an experience that is far more rewarding.Top
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