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IT: Thoughts on the Movie based on the Book by Stephen King #book2movie #review

Image of Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise from the movie It, based on the book by Stephen King,

Bill Skarsgard is Pennywise in IT

Finally saw IT last night, sitting safely in my living room, on my fairly big-screen TV.  Good scary fun if that’s what you’re looking for in a film. Besides the creepy PennyWise the clown—played by Bill Skarsgard and who I understand will be back for IT: Chapter Two—the dynamic between the kids, fighting their childhood battles, their fears of being nerds, stutterers, fat boys, and losers, I was most intrigued by Beverly’s character. 

Image from IT based on the book by Stephen King, starring Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Jaeden Lieberher as Bill, Finn Wolfhard,

Sophia Lillis is Beverly in IT

based on the book by Stephen King

Sophia Lillis as the young Camille Preaker in Sharp Objects 

Played by Sophia Lillis—who we can also see currently as the young Amy Adams in Sharp Objects—Beverly is the boy’s object of desire. A pretty redheaded girl-next-door type, Beverly—Jessica Chastain is slated to play the character in Chapter Two—is bullied by the other girls in school. Along with the garbage they dump down on her head while she sits in a bathroom stall, they hurl all their own self-loathing, all their pent-up insecurities, petty jealousies and worries that come with puberty.  Somebody has to be on the receiving end for all the hatred. There is a rumor that Beverly is a bad girl, that she gives out, sux you know what. In spite of the fact that she is the very image of a good girl—barely developed, pretty in a plain Anne of Green Gables kind of way, ignorant of her own appeal.

What also comes with puberty is by definition, menstruation. When Beverly brings home sanitary napkins, her father demands to know if she is still his girl. Rather than his desire to see her as the sweet innocent daughter, and we see yet another of Stephen King’s fathers with incestuous intentions.  His concern isn’t that she stay sweet and innocent, it’s that she stay sweet and innocent for him. 

Gerald’s Game

I—not someone who has read widely in the King genre—have noticed two other young women abused by their fathers in King adaptations. In Gerald’s Game where the young Jessie,  who adores her father, is forced to sit on the garden bench and fondle his penis. 

Dolores Claiborne

Likewise in Dolores Claiborne, the scene where Selena’s father navigates their seats so they are out of sight of other passengers on the ferryboat and then proceeds to plead with her to touch him is sickening. Those scenes are more horrifying to me than any clown in theatrical make-up.  

Doing a nominal bit of digging, I learn that in the novel, the sex goes beyond the scene where we see the father’s barely concealed desire, beyond the innocent-looking ogling of the boys as she sunbathes in a white cotton bra. In the book, there is apparently a sex scene, a so-called “consensual’’ gang-bang with Bev and the boys, Bev being the initiator and telling them the only way they can escape from the tunnel is if they all have sex with her. King writes that the first boy, Eddie, comes to her “the way he would have come to his mother.” 

Right. So that’s fairly creepy. Not so creepy that I will join the chorus of those accusing Stephen King of promoting pedophilia or his screen adaptations being part of some bizarre Hollywood pedophile ring. What I think is that King is an immensely prolific writer who shares a wealth of knowledge with us. If the world King shows us is weird and wicked, full of depravity, blame the world, not Stephen King. 

To be honest, now that I have seen IT, I'm much more open to seeing IT: Chapter Two, getting to know the kids as they've grown into their adult selves. Seeing what brings them back to town, and how they deal with IT, this time around.