Until they work out a way to film your imagination, the film will never be as good as the book. But by splitting Stephen King’s mammoth 1986 epic It into two films, Andy Muschietti has achieved one of the most faithful King adaptations to date, at least for the bits of the book following The Losers Club as children. We’ll have to wait for the second part to judge exactly how accurately It has leapt from the page, but as the first movie smashes box office records we can certainly nit-pick over the changes made to the original story. If the manifestation of your worst childhood fear is a blog full of major plot spoilers, welcome to your nightmare.
The dodgy sewer sex
Most newsworthy amongst the changes to the book is the – frankly welcome – removal of the random underage sewer gang-bang. By far the weirdest part of a very weird novel, the children find themselves lost in the sewers after facing It for the first time and, for no obvious reason, can only find the unity and focus to find their way out if they all have sex with Beverly. Creepy in all the wrong ways, the scene was incongruous and controversial and thankfully Muschietti felt that the blood oath the children swear to return to defeat the monster was all the bodily fluids they needed to swap to get the point across. Let’s face it, if intense shagging was the best way to find your way out of a maze, Hampton Court would be Britain’s biggest dogging site.
To keep the movies relevant – or perhaps in order to cash in on the Stranger Things phenom – the entire time-frame of the story has been shifted forward. In the book the adult Losers Club return to Derry to battle It in the early 1980s and faced the creature as children in the late 1950s. In the new adaptation, the children come together in the 80s, putting their adult reunion 27 years later towards the end of the 00’s. Which poses the question, how will GPS phones affect their ability to navigate Derry’s sewer system?
What werewolf? Exactly. In the book, the children have encounters with It in the form of their darkest fears – mummies, creatures from black lagoons, werewolves and other such classic movie monsters that kids growing up in 1957 might be terrified of. With the shift in era these visitations make less sense, so they’ve been chopped out. By rights, the kids should be terrorised by Aliens, Predators, Terminators and Gremlins, but the copyright issues would’ve been hell.
The history buff
In the book, it’s Mike Hanlon who becomes the town librarian in later life, gathering together details of It’s historical appearances in Derry after the children’s first battle with the monster. Since Muschietti didn’t want to wait for film two to let the viewer know what the hell was going on, the history is uncovered in the new film by Ben and his Derry town scrapbook.
In the novel, brooding bully Henry plays a major role in the adult-era narrative, which we’ll see in It 2. SPOILER ALERT! In the new film, however, he appears to perish in the final fight, meaning he can’t be blamed for the murders and locked away for the sequel. Or is not all as It seems here?
King envisioned the kids firing silver ‘bullets’ from slingshots at the titular git-beast, but by transposing Mike’s backstory to his grandfather’s farm, Muschietti opens up the option to swap the playground bully’s weapon of choice for a farming bolt gun.
Bev = Princess Peach
Surviving violent abuse at the hands of her father, book Bev is a ballsy character, ready to pile into the fight alongside the rest of the Losers Club. Not so in 2017 – she’s snatched away by Pennywise and the boys have got to go rescue her, an example of Hollywood’s fairy-tale anti-feminism right down to the Sleeping Beauty kiss.