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We know this phenomenon from “Stand By Me” or “Shawshank”: there is a certain nostalgia with Stephen King source material that has nothing to do with his reputation as a horror writer which very much appeals to cinema audiences. As he is (in my humble opinion as a Constant Reader) unsurpassed in characterization, especially of nostalgic settings, of coming of age stories and of underdog heroes, this is what works greatly for people who can’t really be bothered with the horror genre. As “IT” is in many ways an extended cut of The Body / Stand by Me, it is no surprise that this new version, the first chapter of which focuses on the kids’ first encounter with the evil that torments Derry, has been a vastly successful adaptation. I just reread the book a short while ago, and while reading I was wondering how the book’s structural flaws might work out on the screen. Doing away with the intercutting between past and present, and doing two movies dedicated respectively to one time period might have been a good idea, even though I believe that this means the second movie will fall a bit flat in contrast, as it is also less powerful in the book.

For me, chapter 1 did work, even though I am not as enthusiastic about it as many reviewers. It very much provides an executive summary, slightly corrected (and partly improved) version of a large narrative. As you would expect, you cannot engage nearly as much with the movie losers as you can with their book counterparts, as so much of the back story needs to be left out.  Still: they create a wonderful atmosphere of childhood, of Summer holiday and what it’s like to be a kid. There are scenes that are actually very moving, when nothing happens but the kids roaming about, hanging out, chatting and enjoying Summer while they can. The horror elements are kind of traditional, horror prototypes the way the book envisages them, and work as such, even though that’s clearly not what the movie is about. How the loss of childhood, and even of childhood memories is handled will, to me, will decide on the quality of the second chapter.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/it_2017

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