Stephen King has mesmerized generations of bibliophiles with his intricate mysteries and when we speak of the horror genre, one of his creations that is mentioned the most is “IT”. The story about a marauding evil spirit that takes up the shape of a clown and hunts kids has an ominous ring to it. I haven’t read any Stephen King book as of yet but every soul that has ever read any of his books has read this one. Thus when the trailers of the upcoming “IT” film started airing and it looked so very interesting, I couldn’t help but look for any previous rendering of it for the bigger or smaller screen.
After not so much of a search I came up with IT, a miniseries that was aired on the television in 1990 and one that has fairly good ratings on the IMDB. I was hooked. This series is about 3 hours 12 minutes which is somewhat the length of a very long film and I believe that’s the best way of watching it! in one sitting.
The story revolves around a group of kids in the town of Derry who come face to face with a demon who poses as a clown known as Pennywise. The demon has a special affinity to kill children and it kills one of the protagonist’s brother following which the kids go all out in search of the demon and as it would seem at that point of time, put an end to him. However, 30 years later, the demon comes back to haunt the town of Derry yet again and it is left only to the kids who are now not kids anymore to reunite and finish off what they should have the last time around.
The film can be divided into two distinct parts. The first half of it is about one of the friends informing the others about the re-appearance of Pennywise in current time. With each call, the respective friend goes into a flashback and remember their respective encounters with Pennywise. This portion culminate in the kids putting an end to Pennywise 30 years prior to the current time. This part also makes us aware of the equations between the kids and how their lives turned out post their encounter with the demon. None of the friends except one is living in Derry and interestingly they have almost forgotten everything about the episode. Hence before they go after the clown they must first refresh their memories.
The second half of the film which is comparatively shorter than the first part deals with the adult version of the kids arriving in Derry, getting to meet each other, rediscovering their camaraderie and then finally finishing the demon off once and for all. It’s not that simple though as the demon knows all it needs to about the kids and has a few plans of his own to entice them with. He also makes it a point to pit them against one another whenever he can. He gives them visions that gives them new nightmares.
I really liked the series primarily because it is fairly engrossing and even though it may not be particularly intriguing, the whole screenplay keeps you interested in the tale. The length is a major contributor in this line. The first half is the most interesting as we are hooked to the performances of the child actors none of whom I would like to pin point here. The reason for that is simple. They excel equally well. It is because of their performance that the story acquires a seriousness and grit which was absolutely necessary to make us believe in the horror.
It must be kept in mind that the 90s was a time of jump scares and this film really takes that seriously. There are innumerable jump scares and most of them work thanks to a terrifying antagonist and some really well envisioned scary moments. For that, however, we have Stephen King to thank but that doesn’t mean that the director be not given his due credit. The adults, on the other hand, are a tad bit weaker than the kids. While there is an honesty in the performance of the kids, the adults can’t help but appear a little bit superficial.
The film also starts to lose some steam towards the end. In a time like this when we have seen it all in terms of special effects and visual wizardry, the special effects in the climax absolutely don’t hold up. It is the only thing that mars what otherwise could have been a terrifying climax. I understand the limitations but sadly that cannot change the fact that it does affect the feel and effect of the story on the audiences.
Having said that, the story still works and as mentioned before the kids do a hell of a job with their respective acts. The jump scares are really good and the antagonist is deliciously terrifying. This may not be the best rendering of King’s work, which I am told is absolutely nerve-wracking but it is not a bad addition. IT, the miniseries is the perfect appetizer for you if you are interested in the visual rendering of the Stephen King story before “IT”, the 2017 film, hits the theaters in September.
Rating : 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)