By: Charlie Lott, Staff Writer
Andy Muschietti, director of “It,” has created the best film adaptation of acclaimed horror writer Stephen King’s work since Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” Are you ready to get plastered to your seat with fear, never to look at clowns the same again? No? Then you aren’t ready for “It.”
The town of Derry is plagued by an unknown evil force and children are disappearing left and right. After Billy Denbrough’s (Jaeden Lieberher) little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes missing, he starts to search for an answer. Billy bands together with some of his fellow, oft-bullied friends: the new kid at school, a homeschooled outcast, and a girl everyone accuses of having sex with all of the boys at school.
Billy, Beverly (Sophia Lillis), and their misfit band of nerds and outcasts decide to fight back. They find themselves locked in psychological conflict with their deepest secrets and fears. Every episode is followed by a single red balloon, the calling card of iconic horror villain, Pennywise, the dancing clown (Bill Skarsgård).
What sets this movie apart from others in the horror genre is the chilling nature of Pennywise. He smiles. He sweet-talks kids. He gives out balloons. Then, he rips people’s arms off and eats them alive. When Pennywise descends on his victim, the shaky camerawork combines with a jerky, almost puppet-like acting style to make it feel like he’s coming right for you. From his catchphrase, “Everybody floats,” to his toothy smile, you’ll be looking for Pennywise around corners and behind bushes for days after leaving the theater.
Stephen King’s novels are so famous and so terrifying that it is not easy to create a successful screen version, but his sadistic mind and original themes can carry even the worst of movies. The monster terrorizing Derry specifically targets young children because they are the most fearful population. What is more, the idea that kids are being eaten alive by a deranged clown, without any adults to help them take it on, is just plain messed up.
The focus on children puts a lot of pressure on the child actors, but the cast of “It” knocked it out of the park. All of the kids, along with Pennywise and the few adults present, are played by relatively unknown actors, but they were entirely believable and identifiable. Audiences were as terrified for Billie and Beverly as they were terrified of the clown, which makes the film all that much more horrifying.
Coming into the movie, I wondered how scary a two hour movie could be. And although “It” is gripping from start to finish, after awhile, you just get used to the jump scares and the dark themes. Even so, I jumped out of my seat so many times that leaving the theater felt like leaving the PAC after a long workout.
Reviewing horror is an interesting task. With most movies, you leave the theater and think about whether or not you liked what you just watched. But when it comes to horror, if you leave scared then the movie did its job. “It” was freaky enough to keep me on edge walking through campus in the dark, but calling Saferide because I was afraid of a killer clown seemed like a bad idea. Long story short, go see “It.” You won’t be disappointed. You just might have to avoid the circus forever.