Oh, what sweet irony that someone might watch the new It trailer and come away thinking, “They ripped off Stranger Things.” It’s set in the 80s. The main characters are a group of dorky kids who have one token girl around. Trees and light posts in their small town are dotted with “Missing” signs with pictures of little kids. And they’re all being hunted by a monster. Heck, one of the main kids is even played by a Stranger Things actor. As South Park might put it, Stranger Things did it!
Yeah, but Stephen King was doing this shit back when Stranger Things co-creators The Duffer Brothers were still in diapers (to say nothing of the show’s beloved young cast members who were all over a decade away from being born). Give King a couple of painkillers and a long weekend and he’ll crap out several hundred pages of a group of adults looking back on that one time some weird monster tried to kill them when they were kids (or encountered something which is now trying to kill them as adults). We know because that’s basically how we ended up with Dreamcatcher, but it’s a template King first established with 1986’s It (1982’s The Body sort of qualifies, but there are no monsters hunting those Stand By Me kids; just Kiefer Sutherland).
Of course, Stranger Things wasn’t told from the point of view of adults looking back on anything, and neither is the new It movie, which has removed King’s framing device from the novel and saved it for the planned sequel. This is a trailer for It: Part 1 – The Loser’s Club, i.e., when Pennywise terrorizes these poor kids in R-Rated horror movie fashion. The revenge enacted by the adult version of these characters will come later, pending Part 1’s box office:
Well, that’s certainly a sinister use of a slide show projector.
You might have noticed Cary Fukunaga’s (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) name in the credits, but don’t let that get you too excited. Fukunaga tried to get this movie made for 6 years, but walked away in 2015. Mama director Andres Muschietti replaced him, but elements of Fukunaga’s script remain. Muschiette and the producers have largely echoed what the Duffer Brothers said about Stranger Things and described this version of It as an homage to 80s movies, not just the Stephen King ones but also Spielberg, Goonies, various Amlin Entertainment titles, etc. That’s why the time period has been changed from the 50s to the 80s. The difference, though, is they went for an R-rating meaning there’s going to be a little more gore than usual in this thick helping of 80s nostalgia.
It came first, but Stranger Things is what younger people are more likely to know. History is not always kind in a situation like this where an original property tries to come back after a successful knock-off re-popularizes a formula. However, Stranger Things mixes in plenty of Cronenberg and Carpenter with its King and Spielberg. It, by comparison, looks more like a straight-forward horror movie with a period setting and scary ass clown. Perhaps, then, I’m making too much of the similarities. But if It sucks, oh well, Stranger Things season 2 will be right around the corner.
It: Part 1 – The Loser’s Club is due out September 8, 2017; Stranger Things season 2 will drop on Netflix on Halloween.