“IT” is the new horror film taking box offices by storm, and it has quickly become the highest grossing horror film of all time on a domestic basis, not accounting for inflation. On Sept. 8, its first weekend in theaters, it made over $123 million. Based on Stephen King’s original novel of the same name, the story and its main villain are known already by many horror enthusiasts.
The movie is a chilling tale of an evil clown that terrorizes the town of Derry and its inhabitants. It is Andy Muschietti’s sophomore film, and his directorial style proves efficient. It has an R rating and runs 2 hours and 15 minutes long.
“You’ll float too!”. A line that was once innocent, has now become iconic, thanks to “IT.” For decades, Pennywise has been terrifying adults and children alike in the novel and classic TV miniseries. But, the story has received a refreshing reboot in 2017. The outcast kids are funnier and more fearful than ever before.
With the recent increase of massively successful R-rated movies has come a new wave of horror, filled with all sorts of productions ranging from cliche-ridden mess (looking at you, Wish Upon) to sociopolitical horror-commentary (a big thanks to the excellence of Get Out). Yet none truly convey what is so great about horror like “IT” does.
Rather than rely on jump scares, Muschietti builds on the atmosphere, leaving every viewer unsettled within the first ten minutes. That is not to say there are not scares though, the first scene of the movie is one so remarkably brutal that even horror buffs like me were surprised. Pennywise pulls out no stops in terrifying these kids.
The kids are the by far the best part of the movie. They are a group of outcasts and losers, each with their own trauma and fears. The acting is phenomenal with two standout characters: Finn Wolfhard’s Richie and Jack Dylan Grazer’s Eddie. The two add some much needed comic relief . The children perfectly capture truly sweet friendships in an otherwise horrific story.
For example, there is so much sadness when sweet little Georgie goes out in the rain to play with his paper boat and never returns. There is sympathy for Billy when he becomes obsessed with finding his brother Georgie, and drags his friends into it. Muschietti makes us care about every kid and makes every one of their fears relatable. Eddie has a fear of germs, while Richie has a fear of clowns. These kids are constantly being chased down by the very personification of their fears, which is something scary for all.
Trauma is a large theme in the film as well, as it helps the movie transcend from stereotypical horror into something more. Every child must come to terms with their circumstances in their own way and must make changes to do so. They grow, they learn, and they overcome.
Although the movie is about a ridiculous, murderous clown, the kids feel so real. They have faced pain and survived it, and together they are even more powerful. The issues they face feel all too relevant in times where things seem to be in constant turmoil, and it can serve as a platform for many who deal with such things as abuse or bullying.
That is not to say the movie is flawless, though. Despite some of the excellent scares and generally tense atmosphere, there are times when Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise feels too heavy-handed on the CGI and a bit laughable. Although, the very foundation of a character that is an evil clown living in the sewers is laughable.
Another flaw is that some of the characters do feel underwritten, such as Mike or Stanley. But the other characters end up compensating for some of the weaker parts because they are just so likable. Even though it is not perfect, “IT” still is a fun film.
Ultimately, “IT” is an excellent display of modern horror films, capturing a truly sweet coming of age drama amidst a storm of terror. It is carried largely by the children, whose stories and performances will leave you wanting more, but it is overall a great addition to the current catalog of socially relevant horror. Just remember, stay away from the sewers.