2017 was a great year for movies, especially if you were a horror buff. While the media downplayed it immensely, horror movies kicked major ass in theaters and streaming services, and a few of the highest grossing an most acclaimed films were horror, including a new adaptation of a Stephen King novel, which broke all records. While America wondered if there would be nuclear war tomorrow, Hollywood kept us entertained and laughing, with great superhero cinema, and of course some cathartic genre films of the horror, fantasy, and science fiction variety.
It’s been a banner year for Stephen King fans everywhere, and Shout Factory sweetens the pot by giving Rob Reiner’s horror masterpiece “Misery” a collector’s edition. Based on the classic Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner who is no stranger to adapting King’s work, brings to screen a work of terror, dark comedy, and a demented commentary about the fans behind our work that also control our work. It’s a very volatile and sharp edged polemic about fandom when you get right down to it, and it’s never been more relevant than in the day and age where fandoms from all corners of the world have the loudest voices and sometimes can break the very thing they love.
2017’s been the year of Stephen King, and it’s been a great bit of fortune that fans have been given mostly great cinematic adaptations of his work. “1922” is a deliberately paced and ingeniously calculated drama that hearkens back to the classic Victorian era murder thrillers. King invokes the style of Edgar Allan Poe for “1922,” a Southern Gothic drama that’s heavily steeped in horror. While it’s been lumped in to the Stephen King horror category, “1922” is more an examination on the concept of greed, and how it can rot us from inside out. It’s more tragedy with a tinge of horror more than horror, despite how menacing director Zak Hilditch paints the twisted albeit beautiful aesthetic.
Mike Flanagan is one of the best directors working in film today. His list of genre offerings have been impressive, not just because the movies have been great, but because he knows how to build a damn good narrative. Flanagan has consistently impressed me, and with “Gerald’s Game” he delivers a stellar horror drama from the works of Stephen King. Even the best directors have fallen under the weight of the difficult to adapt King tales, but “Gerald’s Game” manages to be an unnerving and complex dramatic thriller that is focused on character and the sometimes weird coincidences of life and fate.
Stephen King has always been less about ghosts and monsters, and more about the ghosts and monsters in man. “The Shining” and “It” were so much less about the supernatural, as they were the darkness that is already there in humanity that helps breed evil and allow it to thrive. The stay at the Stanley hotel, the experience that inspired “The Shining” also helped King garner a keen insight in to the human condition. “1408” is something of an extension of “The Shining” where a man is already doing battle on the inside and comes face to face with a presence that is only a mere extension of himself. That’s scarier than anything that anyone can conjure up.
Since just about every other movie blog are offering their choices for the adult “The Losers Club” for Chapter Two of 2017’s “It,” I thought it’d be fun to offer my own dream cast. A lot of people agree that once “It” shifts over to the adult portion of its horror tale that it kind of loses steam (the 1990 miniseries fell victim to that, especially), so with Andres Muschietti planning some interesting twists that will explore Pennywise’s horrific origins, as well as where they’ve been for almost thirty years, the adult cast needs to be dynamic.
I’m sure they have some amazing actors in mind, since the casting for “It” was pretty superb, already. And I’m sure I’ll enjoy who they bring on board, eventually. What can I say? “It” filled with me enough confidence where I am sure that they know what they’re doing with this adaptation. But just for fun, here’s who I’d pick for the Loser’s Club when we meet them again twenty seven years later.
Andrés Muschietti’s “It” has proven in a year of really bad Stephen King adaptations, that it is very possible to put one of King’s most popular novels on screen and remind us once again why King is King. Muschietti, like Tommy Lee Wallace before him, has the daunting task of compressing an eleven hundred page novel in to what will end up being a five hour epic. Yet, “It” manages to come out mostly unscathed as a film that is both a spooky horror film and a stellar coming of age drama. Much like “Mama,” Muschietti’s work on “It” ends in a film that can be appreciated as a human drama and a pure horror movie packed with heart, scares, insight in to growing up in an unforgiving, cruel world.
So you saw “The Dark Tower” and were meh on it, but then you saw “IT” and were all over it. As “Mr. Mercedes” is available for streaming and “Gerald’s Game” is coming soon, how else is a die hard Stephen King fan supposed to satiate their thirst, their need? Shorts, of course. After watching tons of Stephen King short film adaptations, one of them stands out head and shoulders above the rest and every fan should make it a point to find it and see it.