All About ‘It’

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'It,' released in theaters across the U.S. on September 8th, 2017.

'It,' released in theaters across the U.S. on September 8th, 2017.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

'It,' released in theaters across the U.S. on September 8th, 2017.

Edan Larkin, Editor-in-Chief

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Many adults credit the seemingly illogical fears they suffer from today to the works of Stephen King that they read in adolescence. A plethora of these adults attribute one highly specific phobia to King–the fear of clowns. The story guilty of this is King’s It.

A lot of people can recognize defining symbols of It–the yellow raincoat, the paper boat, the red balloon, the clown, the “You’ll float too”–but not many of these people have neither read nor seen the story. If you hate clowns, be warned: the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s famous It is probably not for you. The main antagonist of the story manifests as a downright horrifying, man-eating, supernaturally evil clown. If you ever liked clowns (I don’t know why you would), then also be warned: this movie will destroy any positive perception you previously had of them.

Warner Bros. Pictures
The horrifying It, aka Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

For those of you unfamiliar with Stephen King and his work, he is, appropriately, the king of horror. Whether you know it or not, if you’ve seen scary movies, it’s more than likely that at least one was his. King is the creepy mastermind behind classics like The Shining, The Silver Bullet, Carrie, and less scarring but equally emotional stories like The Shawshank Redemption. (Although this is a review of It, I also recommend all the stories listed above.)

It commences on a rainy day in 1988. A young boy named Georgie and his older brother Bill sit in a dark room, working together to build a paper boat that they call SS Georgie. Their goal is to get the boat to ride the streams of rainwater down their road.

Georgie, sporting his distinctly yellow raincoat, runs outside to test the boat by himself, as Bill is too sick to play in the rain. Georgie excitedly places the boat in the water and happily chases behind the boat as it begins to race down the pavement. Unfortunately for Georgie and the hearts of all the viewers, the little SS Georgie floats right into a sewer drain.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Little Georgie staring into the sewer at It.

This ruins Georgie’s fun, so he decides to peer down the drain in search of the boat. Georgie finds no boat; he instead finds It. The It. It is a clown–a figure young Georgie looks to as someone who brings joy, someone he can trust. The storyline does an excellent job of using the vulnerable and trusting qualities of children against them in order to create fear in other ways than simply through the clown itself.

This iconic opening scene drives the plot of the movie. It centers around a band of outcast 13-year-old kids living in Derry, Maine, who dub themselves the “Losers’ Club.” This “Losers’ Club,” spearheaded by none other than Georgie’s brother Bill, unites together in order to find out what happened to little Georgie. The kids get way more than they bargained for when they uncover the mysterious evil that drives every horrific event–and there are an unsettling amount of those–that has transpired in Derry: It.

It takes on the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. However, It is not limited to this appearance. What makes It so daunting is that It isolates an individual child from a group. From this point, It possesses the abilities to read said child’s deepest fear and make that fear a reality, forcing the child to feel unimaginable terror.

The worst part is that adults can’t see it, and the kids feel alone until they confide in each other. Once the kids find the courage to admit what they previously assumed was their own lunacy, this band of juvenile misfits is able to trust and unite in ways they never had before. They discover the truth about themselves and they grow closer to each other as they do so. The childlike jokes and banter they share provide a comical and amusing aspect to the otherwise extremely dark movie, which only makes the audience’s emotional investment in the characters stronger. Despite the scare factor of the film, you’ll find yourself laughing out loud more than once.

Junior Clara Kingsbury spoke highly of the movie. She praised, “It was such a great film. Not only was it incredibly scary, but it was hilarious. I feel like very few horror movies have that balance.”

Throughout the film, the self-proclaimed losers begin to feel like they have somewhere to belong. In fact, this bond is revealed to be the only hope they have at defeating It; It only preys on isolated individuals. They work together to untangle the mystery of the bloodthirsty clown that lives in the sewers beneath their very feet. Underneath the horror, there lies a quite beautiful message of the positive impacts of unity. In this way, the movie serves as much as a coming-of-age film as it does a horror one.

The premise of the movie is, in my opinion, one of the most terrifying I’ve ever encountered. I think what makes it so particularly scary is the fact that the monster is a clown, something everyone can remember from childhood, preying on little children.

Since the main protagonists are all children, that certainly makes it both scarier and sadder. But, in my opinion, this is a pretty great tactic to evoke emotions from an audience. Actually, as a viewer, it makes you connect more deeply to the movie and its characters.

Personally, in any horror movie featuring adults, I’m not as concerned about their wellbeings. However, throughout this entire film, I found myself screaming and cheering along with the characters. I mean, they’re kids. They’re innocent and have their whole lives ahead of them. You see them in their most vulnerable states and you understand because you’ve been there, except they have it a million times worse. You watch them stare danger in the face and you find yourself afraid that they’ll die instead of being afraid of the monster on screen (although It’s horrifying). You invest yourself in the story because you want the kids to live. Who doesn’t? Other than It, of course.

Further, since the cast consists primarily of children, the actors portraying them are obviously children as well. The child actors in the film include Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Jaeden Lieberher (Bill), Sophia Lillis (Beverly), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben), and Chosen Jacobs (Mike). The youth of the actors elicits an admiration for the entire cast–for the most part, each cast member performs exceptionally well especially considering their ages. They laugh, fight, and cry on screen with an ease and rawness that is commendable. I’m only slightly older than a majority of the cast and I certainly can’t do that.

Warner Bros. Pictures
The main characters of ‘It.’ (From left to right: Bill, Eddie, Richie, Ben, Beverley, Stanley, Mike).

One of the only adult cast members, Bill Skarsgård, the man who plays It, also does an excellent job with his character. He uses a tone of voice that resembles any other circus clown while dictating the creepiest things ever. He twitches and ticks in all the right ways to make the audience visibly nervous every single time he graces the screen. Adopting the mindset of a character as demented as It is no easy task, but Skarsgård does so quite effectively.

As someone who has a general understanding of both the It book and the miniseries that premiered in 1990, I believe that this new adaptation stays true to story whilst adding and subtracting a few bits in ways that overall make for a great film. There is always truth to the fact that the book is better than the movie, and I agree with that stance here as well.

However, some aspects of the book that didn’t make the movie cut aren’t anything to miss. For example, if you are familiar with the original It book, you are aware of the infamous, sexually explicit scene between the children that takes place in the sewers. In my opinion, a scene like that isn’t even scary; it’s truly just disturbing. I mean, the kids are 13-years-old. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I won’t tell you. But if you do, you can rest assured knowing that director Andy Muschietti decided to cut the uncomfortable scene out entirely, which is a choice I certainly stand by.

A quick anecdote to add to the scare factor of the movie: Stephen King’s It miniseries aired in 1990. In It, Pennywise strikes every 27 years exactly by way of a series of child murders and disappearances. What’s 27 years after 1990? 2017, the year of the new It movie’s release.

To add insult to injury, The Huffington Post interviewed one of the stars of the new film, Finn Wolfhard (Richie). Wolfhard reveals the aligning of the dates was completely unplanned. Wolfhard explains, “Had the movie been shot the summer before, when I was in Cary Fukunaga’s cast, ‘It’ would have come out 26 years after the 1990 miniseries. But then [director Andy Muschietti] came on, and so here we are, 27 years later. And it is every 27 years that It returns. You tell me if that’s a coincidence.”

This could be a considered a bit of a spoiler alert, so feel free to quit reading now. Anyways, thankfully, the ending of the movie results in less harm than good. Clara Kingsbury continued, “The movie was also cool because it had a pretty happy ending.”

Sophomore Owen Hull didn’t entirely agree. “The movie was really great,” he affirmed. “But it was a bit cheesy.”

It’s easy to see what he means when he says that. At the end of the film, the conflict seems essentially resolved. The remaining children meet up once again following the climax of the film and make a promise to each other that, at the off-chance It returns 27 years into the future, they would put their lives on hold to come back to Derry as 40-year-olds to destroy It.

As a viewer, you hope the worst is over. You’re fine with the cheesiness because you wanted the kids to survive. But it seems like the worst is actually yet to come–as the final scene comes to a close, the screen darkens to display two words written in red font: “Chapter One.”

As much as I want the characters to be at peace, I won’t lie and say I’m not happy about another movie most likely coming out. I overall very much enjoyed It, and I give my praise to the entire cast and crew. The movie was certainly one of the best in the horror genre released in recent years. It had a layered, in-depth storyline, and I regard it as one of King’s best movies. Critics far more professional than myself have given the movie considerable praise, acclaiming the faithfulness to the book, the acting, and the directing. Many have proclaimed It as one of King’s best movie adaptations as well. The impressive box office sales from just the first weekend speak volumes.

If you’re afraid to see it, there’s no need to worry. Just remember: You’ll float too.

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