Review by: Emily Chmielewski
IT, the film adaptation of the Stephen King novel by the same name, tells the story of a group of friends that band together to solve the mystery of disappearing kids in Derry. This theme may seem boring to those that are familiar with the horror genre. I assure you the power of friendship alone didn’t form a magical and unexplainable weapon to defeat the villain. Those of you that have seen the original IT T.V. series adaptation may know it left more to be desired. For its time, it sent a chill down our parent’s spine and gave weary inquiry to storm drains. But Tim Curry’s drunkenly applied blue paint and gumball machine teeth were laughable in the face of danger. The R-Rated version of the story is able to take the horror above a T.V. rating. Where the original relied on implied danger and the fear of the unknown, the remake is able to utilize simulated gore to make the audience squeeze their eyes shut. By splitting the sections into their own feature-length spotlights, we are able to see nuances that were glossed over in the original. By spreading the origin throughout the film we can connect to the characters as we see their own struggle. Thought I still regret the decision made to exclude IT’s time as Jaws or Freddy Krueger. Thought they did allude to the Universal monsters when Ben is slashed in a way reminiscent of the Wolfman, as he was in the novel. This liberty to explore the material in depth delivers the scares in a more aggressive and in your face way because they can focus on purposeful placement.
Jump scares in movies have all too often been utilized in order to give the horror director an easy out when it comes to scaring an audience. While IT makes use of strategically placed lighting and sudden appearances from Pennywise the Dancing Clown, IT certainly doesn’t need them to keep you up at night. Having read the book (disclaimer: the previews of the book) and having seen the tv adaptation of the novel hadn’t adequately prepared me for the opening scene. This film capitalizes on the use of eerie suspense to set the viewer into a frenzy of panic. The most effective way this was achieved was through the use of nonchalant adults who shrug off clear ties to an epidemic of kidnapping and murder. They deliver dialogue reminiscent of Disney robots from rides like It’s a Small World, only with a thirty-second delay and an eye twitch just noticeable enough that you scoot further into the boat. This also furthers the viewer’s connection to the Losers Club.
The Loser’s Club will leave the audience drawing straws to decide who gets to be who (I’ve got dibs on Eddie the Hypochondriac). As IT targets each member, you confront their greatest fear alongside them. This point makes it easy to characterize the protagonists and keep them dynamic. The most notable example of this is the character of Beverly Marsh. Though I won’t spoil too much for you, Beverly Marsh overcomes quite a bit as a character. As a victim of an implied sexual assault at the hand of her father, we see Bev overcome the guilt of victim shaming to become the empowered figure of girl power we all want to see in the world. She stands her ground, shears off the reminders of pain (that’s a hair pun), and gives the finger to her attacker. To this, I say: “You Go Girl!”. Though we see the biggest change in Bev, the other members of the Loser Club (Bill, the concerned older brother; Richie, the comedic relief; Eddie, the super germaphobe, Ben the New Kids on the Block enthusiast; Stan, the skeptic; and Mike the voice of reason.) experience similar revelations. Unlike movies of similar nature, you won’t find yourself rooting for Pennywise against any of the “Lucky Seven”.
My issues with this movie revolve mainly around the soundtrack, or should I say the blast track, because this movie is LOUD. There was a point where I had my fingers in my ears and a hoodie covering my hands; this only slightly muffled the character’s WHISPERING. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone sensitive to sound unless you were in favor of noise-canceling headphones. Nothing bad ever happens to people who wear noise-canceling headphones. I would, however, recommend this film to anyone looking for lovable characters and a fresh take on classic scares.
There have been few movies that have enraptured my heart quite like this film. It was strange the way a couple of losers, some coke bottle glasses, and a dancing clown were able to demand my attention in a way that made time imperceptible. I want more Derry, I want more Losers, and I want more Pennywise! I want to be immersed in the world of IT, metaphorically though…. I’m not about to get my arm bitten off today. Go see what I mean! Then you’ll float too.