‘IT’ is no laughing matter

Jared Skinner, Features Writer

Clowns seem to have been a trope in horror movies since the infamous scene in Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece “Poltergeist.” Always tormenting children with their fixed grins and painted faces, clowns challenge our expectations and tease our fears of the unknown. Are there hidden motives behind the humanoid visage and unearthly grinning?

The 2017 version of “IT,” adapted from Stephen King’s 1986 work of the same name, understands that it is not the fear of clowns that makes things horrifying. Rather, it is their resemblance and perversion of something so friendly, innocent and familiar that makes them so repulsive.  

The story of “IT” follows Bill Denborough (Jaeden Lieberher) and his friends as they struggle to reconcile with the unnerving number of child disappearances in their hometown of Derry, Maine. Bill’s brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) is one of these mysteriously departed and he clings to the hope that his younger brother is still alive. At the center of these disappearances is Pennywise, the Dancing Clown, played by a commendable Bill Skarsgård, cackling as he dismembers and drags children into sewers.

The first half of “IT” contains some savvy directing from Andy Muschietti with excellent uses of light, camera movement and framing to create some effective scares. However, over its runtime the horror is stretched thin and by the third act it devolves entirely into action movie antics. Yet, the traditional horror scenes actually seem to highlight the real life nightmares that torment these children of the cursed town of Derry. Whether it be the sexual abuse of Beverly’s (Sophia Lillis) father, the racism that took Mike’s (Chosen Jacobs) family, or the struggles of hypochondria for Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), the children are tormented by very adult problems.

It is this group, the lucky seven that make up the “Losers Club,” that makes “IT” a surprisingly funny and enjoyable film to watch. The chemistry between these young stars is electric especially from standouts like Finn Wolfhard and Sophia Lillis. Their foul-mouthed banter and morbid sense of adventure make for a heartfelt and twisted journey through the violent and nightmarish town with the utter lack of adult help.

That being said, what all adaptations of Stephen King’s “IT” understand is that being a kid is terrifying. Alone in a world where their fears are laughed at or ignored by adults, the everyday events become filled with an existential dread. An icy and crippling fear attaches itself to the school, the library, the synagogue, the act of facing your family and especially in the thought of growing up. So in spite of the monsters and supernatural specters that haunt our main characters, “IT” echoes the sentiment of Stephen King’s classic novel, that our fears will always stay locked inside of us but with the help of the strongest bonds of friendship, maybe we can learn how to live with them.

 

GRADE: B

2 comments

  1. Nathan says:

    Wow couldn’t agree more!

  2. Nathan says:

    Also what a great title haha!!

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