Stephen King’s It Review

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Nothing grabs hold of a person’s eccentric fears like the images of killer clowns. These iconic child entertainers didn’t do anything wrong and often look silly or goofy, but at some point in human history we gave the clown a knife and an evil laugh, now we all have the clown phobia. But no clown, and I mean none, can top Tim Curry’s classic portrayal as Pennywise in the 1990’s TV adaptation of Stephen King’s famous novel. The goofy laughs and blood filled balloons taught my younger self that a trip to the ring ling brothers was not in my future. Beyond the legendary performance, there’s something about the original It TV series that still sends shivers down my spine. Something about those cheesy “scary” scenes struck me as a child and stayed with me as an adult. So when I heard that It was going to be remade for the big screen, I had my doubts and my hopes.

“director Andrés Muschietti nails that feeling very well”

In this dramatic horror story, we see a group of children deal with an ancient evil that has been haunting their small town of Derry. Not only is this evil taking form of a clown, it’s also mocking the children by shape shifting into their worst nightmare. Worst of all no one but the kids can see Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), or his conjured up horror assistants, so the children are out on their own. This might be IT’s greatest pitfall; its many lazily created mischievous monsters which have no involvement with the strange and diluted plot that surrounds the history of Pennywise. I get it, they’re all manifestations of a child’s greatest fears, but a little plot string shouldn’t excuse the designers from creating these hideous beings, and not in a good way. There was always something off about every monster that wasn’t Pennywise. They each had no personality and no reason for existing other than to scare a particular child. Even more, some scenes including these makeshift beings just looked terribly awkward when compared with the compelling scares that Pennywise induced.

Kids Will Be Kids 

Luckily IT’s many other innovations kept those rough moments from clotting the film. In bringing IT to a new age, New Line has kept everything amazing about the book but added a modern flare to it. This is obvious in the way It is directed; almost like a major blockbuster, the adrenaline never really stopping. Not only this, but many of the visuals are beefed up to look as horrifically real as possible. The mass amounts of blood are more vicious, the broken bones look very real, the endless amounts of cuts and stab look sadistically vivid. This movie is rated R for a reason, and many of the murder scenes reminded me exactly why. In the classic first scene, for instance, I was instantly shocked at the amount of blood and gore which splattered upon the screen. It wasn’t too much, and more often than not I only found myself shocked at the choice to use these methods more than the actual implementation of the gross shredding of human bodies.

Even more than the torturous horror, we also got a very different feel for the narrative. The new group who populate Derry’s Pennywise resistance are bonafide bad kids who blurt out every conceivable gentile joke in the book. Their many ways of expressing their anger, disgust, and sadness are the highlight of other wards depressing journey. Each child has their own struggle with growing up that doesn’t even touch on horror tropes. Whether having to memorize the Torah, hiding tampons or trying to hide their love of New Kids On The Block, the cast had many other troubles bothering them not counting the maniac killer clown. The background of each of these individuals made the cohesiveness of the group even more heartwarming and relatable. This new rag tag team of wanna be Avengers (or maybe American pie actors) convinced me that anything is possible with a little teamwork, optimism, loyalty, and fearless bravery. This is the soul of the movie and director Andrés Muschietti nails that feeling very well.

Stephen King Is 1 For 2 In 2017

Considering how iconic the character of Pennywise is, probably one of the scariest clowns ever presented, it’s important that he be the movie’s visual and performance pinnacle. In a way, Bill Skarsgard intelligently strode away from challenging the milestone performance of the previous iteration of Pennywise. Instead of bringing that eerie, over the top goofiness which made Tim Curry’s Pennywise so scary, he instead relies on his odd talent to stare into the camera in a way which both draws your eyes but sends your brain into a seizure of fright. This, along with his ability to make the clown feel more calculated and monolithic, made the villain of the film even more despicable. This contrast between the likable nature of the kids and the absolute terror of Pennywise made the conflict between the two a spectacle in which I was fully emotionally involved in.

It was this spectacle in which we saw moment after moment of dramatic build to what would become one of my favorite scenes of the year, and possibly ever. This build up is also accompanied by plenty of “scares” directly intended to make the audience feel just as helpless as the kids. There were some common jump scares and some creepy close ups on old pictures of the clown (and other things), but this is not where It shined the most. Instead, the movie did something really special in its approach to send the audience into a flurry of fear; they kept the camera on the scary things. Who would’ve guessed it? When these frightening moments came we didn’t get a small glimpse at a hand quickly scratching someone, or a long dressed ghost walking quickly by. Instead, It focuses on the scary nature of their subject (the monsters) by letting the camera hang on the scary figure for a while before letting the audience have a bit of relief. It’s a new style of shooting horror movies that is rare among the box office, and I dearly hope some new horror movies learn from these wonderful techniques.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Stephen King's IT
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A gamer who enjoys nothing more than gameplay and a greatly crafted narrative plot, but never the two together. I love long walks on the beach, the glimmer of gold in my eyes after a boss fight, and last but not least writing for VP daily.