2017 was a banner year for Stephen King. In theatres he had The Dark Tower and It, and on Netflix he had two original movies, Gerald’s Game and 1922. To have four of your stories adapted into films in one year is pretty huge, especially since they were all damn good. But the biggest hit of them all was It, which grossed over $700 million worldwide making it one of the biggest hits of the year and solidifying horror as the genre to beat in 2017. It has made its way to Blu-ray this month with an anticipated extended cut coming later this year as well.
The town of Derry is idyllic and a perfect example of Anytown, USA. Except for the fact that it has a history of disappearing kids. In the summer of 1989 seven friends Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stan (Wyatt Oleff), Beverly (Sophia Lillis) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) try to find out what is taking the kids of Derry and stop it once and for all. But when the mysterious force takes the form of a terrifying clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) and will stop at nothing to kill each and every one of them, they must band together if they are going to stop the terrible legacy in Derry.
Director Andy Muschietti (Mama) has done a brilliant job of bringing King’s novel to life. While the 1990 TV miniseries of It has its defenders and is a decent movie in its own right, it does come across as very dated now with only Tim Curry’s Pennywise standing the test of time. Bill Skarsgård had quite a job to try and match Curry’s inspired performance but did it with flying colors making Pennywise truly terrifying. And the cast of kids is pitch perfect as well including Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard. For me though, the stand outs in the cast of kids have to be Sophia Lillis’ Beverly and Jeremy Ray Taylor’s Ben. All the kids really bring a fantastic sense of authenticity to their roles and the screenplay by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman do the same for the setting. Filmed largely here at home in Port Hope, Ontario and my own hometown of Oshawa, Ontario, the setting of 1989 is perfectly captured and heavily nostalgic while remaining believable and authentic. It is a wonderful addition to the Stephen King adaptation library and to the horror genre. 2017 was a benchmark year for horror, let’s hope the trend continues through 2018.