By Joseph White
It, a horror movie based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel, tells the fictional story of Derry, Maine, where every 27 years, a demonic being awakes from its hibernation to terrorize the town. IT, as it is known, takes the shape of whatever an individual fears most. IT uses this ability to scare children before taking them into the sewers, where IT lives, and feeding on their fear. In the movie, IT is seen mostly in the form of Pennywise The Dancing Clown in order to lure children.
The movie opens on a rainy day, and 14-year-old Bill Denbrough is making a paper boat for his little brother Georgie. Promising to return it, Georgie takes the boat outside and places it in the flow of draining water at the curb of their street. The boat floats along the curb and begins to pick up speed. Running after it, Georgie watches as the boat falls into the sewage drain. He looks in the drain to find Pennywise emerging from shadows, holding his boat. With a sinister smile, Pennywise urges Georgie reach into the drain to retrieve the boat. Georgie reaches into the drain as Pennywise reveals his razor-shaped teeth. After getting his arm bitten off, Georgie tries crawling away, but it’s too late. Pennywise grabs Georgie by the leg and drags him into the sewer. His consumption of Georgie marked the start of IT’s feeding frenzy.
As a individual who has never been fond of horror movies, due to the nightmares that follow the viewing, I thought this movie was marvelous. However, I thought some of the forms IT took were not as terrifying as they should’ve beem. For example, Eddie, a cautious, clean-cut 14-year-old, has a fear of disease and sickness. The form IT took, the Leper, looked like “a walking infection,” as described by Eddie. The Leper wore ragged and ripped clothes with long hair and had a face riddled with sores and other unsettling features. While I see the costume designers tried to make the Leper as scary as possible, I believe they over-compensated and made the Leper more fake than scary.
Twice in the movie, Ben, an overweight new kid played by Jeremy Ray Taylor, is cut in the stomach. Walking home from the library, Ben is jumped by a group of bullies. Henry, a psychopath played by Nicholas Hamilton, pulls out a knife and begins to carve his name into Ben’s stomach. Barely, Ben is able to escape and is found by the rag-tag group of outcasts known as the “losers club.” Afterwards, his face was bruised, cut, and bloody; but the next day, he looks as if nothing happened to him. Richie, played by Finn Wolfhard, was another weak link in the plot. His character’s attitude never changed throughout the movie. The single time Wolfhard did show a bit of fear, I thought his delivery was too dramatic and did not seem authentic.
The casting of this film was a major piece of It’s such a success. Bill Skarsgård, the actor playing IT, did a magnificent job bringing Pennywise to life. Acting like an ordinary, innocent clown, his smile, the way he talks, and his laughter reminds us all of the clowns at our birthday parties as children, and this adds to Pennywise’s twistedness. Skarsgård also brought a great deal to his character and did not need help from computer editing. The signature Pennywise smile was something Skarsgård would do growing up, and he is also able to make one of his eyes lazy, which was a perfect contribution to his character. Along with Skarsgård, the children casted to play in the losers club did a marvelous job. All the kids seemed to relate to their characters in some way, which made the movie all the more believable.
The CGI in the movie was outstanding, creating the scariest moments possible. This is demonstrated perfectly in a scene when the gang is using a projector. Bill is projecting to the friends a diagram of the sewage pipes of the town, showing that all the pipes lead to an old well. Bill believes that since IT uses the sewers for quick transport, maybe the well would be where IT lives. As Bill flips through the pictures, he loses control of the projector, and it begins to move faster through the pictures. The projector lands on a picture of Bill and his family, but something is off. The projector keeps rolling, slowly illustrating Pennywise in the pictures. As the music intensifies, Pennywise’s head pops out of the screen, causing the children to run for their lives. As unpredictable it was for me, this moment left me stunned and impressed with the event that just transpired.
This was an outstanding movie, and I would recommend It to anyone. Whether you enjoy horror movies or can’t bring yourself to watch one, this movie appeals to everyone in some shape or form.
All images courtesy of New Line Cinema.