What are you scared of? Spiders? Clowns? Your own family members? In the 2017 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s It, directed by Andy Muschietti, the ghoulishly unshackled update of his coulrophobia focuses exclusively on the teenage versions of the novel’s characters as they fight an entity that embodies their innermost fears. Pennywise the Dancing Clown tracks down and torments the children of Derry, Maine, manifesting itself as the kids’ greatest anxieties, real or irrational. Pennywise knows what frightens them in this precarious state of flux and tries to use that devious, supernatural ability to lead the children to their doom. However, confronting those fears rather than running away is what just might save them.
It is a horror movie that starts with a tragic event and focuses around childhood friendship . The film is filled with quotes such as “you’ll float, too” that terrify the audience as they watch deceased characters stand suspended in air. The movie builds fright from fear, evident from special effects such as Pennywise’s mouth, which opens to show rows and rows of deadly teeth. Characters covered in deadly diseases, with limbs falling off or dragging behind them speed up the heartbeat of the audience. The lighting also plays a big role in the movie. The dark sewers echo with a question of “what’s in the shadows” and dimly lit pathways linger with the question of “what’s behind the corner.”
The film is infused with major themes, such as ordinary people can come together to do extraordinary things or the victimization of the weak by the strong. The characters, Beverly Marsh [Sophia Lillis], Richie Tozier [Finn Wolfhard], Bill Denbrough [Jaeden Lieberher], and Eddie Kaspbrak [Jack Dylan Grazer] have a variety of expletives at their disposal and most of them can’t finish a sentence without having a curse mixed in their words. In addition to curse filled sentences, violence is a major part of the film. The cast has to face off against Pennywise and use many weapons, such as knives and metal pipes, to try and kill him. Even without fighting Pennywise, a local gang constantly chases down and harasses the main characters, with switchblades and rocks. Each character also has to fight off their main fear to save themselves, including abusive family members, neglect, and diseases
The cast of It portray their characters well, from Richie’s aloof attitude and colorful language to Georgie’s innocence. During moments of terror, the actors/actresses show the fear in their expressions as they desperately try to escape Pennywise. Even in the scenes that don’t include the shapeshifting clown, each character appears real and the audience feels as if they are with the actors in every moment of their journey. For example, when Bev, the only female main character, cuts off her hair after a traumatizing experience with her father, the viewers can sense her anger with every cut and the pain in every tear. Each character is also costumed with appropriate outfits. Eddie, who is terrified of sicknesses, wears a fanny pack to keep his medicine and asthma pump with him at all times, which provides comic relief during scary scenes.
The film is filled with scenes that are mixes of satire and fear. It focuses on the bond between the outcasts, or the main characters, and shows the self proclaimed Losers’ Club as they confront their nightmares head on, running through abandoned buildings and dark sewers. In clips filled with silence, jump scares fill the empty segments, cued by the eerie sounds of the waterphone, further emphasizing the horror theme that runs through the movie. Even without jump scares that leave the audience shaking, the soundtrack is filled with a wide spectrum of songs, ranging from New Kids on the Block to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
It is an amazing, complex movie that follows a genuinely scary plot line. The film touches on the importance of youth and the intensity of our childhood experiences, showing how everyone has fears, illogical or not. Pennywise portrays all of our nightmares, put into one crazy creature. With astounding special effects and stunning actors/actresses, It will leave you with only one thing in your mind: “you’ll float, too.”