September 12, 2017
Rate: 5 stars
“It” is a relentlessly entertaining horror film, and it mostly owes that to the brilliant dialogue.
I never thought I’d say this, but “It” is easily the funniest movie to come out this year.
The movie, directed by Andy Muschietti, is a remake of the 1990 television show of the same name that was adapted from the original Stephen King novel.
Both the television series and the film revolves around a group of middle school classmates on the first day of summer in the year1989.
Six-year-old Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes missing during the night of a nasty storm, and weeks later is presumed dead. Georgie’s older brother Billy (Jaeden Lieberher) still has hope that Georgie is alive.
Thinking he got washed away by the rainwater, Billy and his friends search the sewers. They look for Georgie, living or dead, but only find “It,” the murderous clown that comes to serve as the film’s namesake (Bill Skarsgard).
The group calls the clown “It” because it can take any form, usually settling on a gourd-faced clown called Pennywise. It feeds on fear and targets children. Only children can see Pennywise and everything it does.
The clown is used sparingly though and for good reason: this is really a coming-of-age film about a group of hilarious friends.
The line-up of kids resembles “The Goonies.” There is the character with a speech impediment (braces in “The Goonies,” a stutter here), the funny kid who won’t shut up and the chubby kid with a heart of gold. And, of course, the girl of the group that ends up in a love triangle with two of the other kids.
The relationships between the kids feels organic. They are connected by their bullies; the main characters don’t all meet until they get cornered by them. This is poetic, considering the theme of the movie: fear.
Childhood is scary; we know that. But kids often don’t realize what causes their fear. It’s always real people.
Another parallel to “The Goonies” is just how much fun the kids have, even given their predicament. “It” realizes how horror writers often let the characters become lifeless and fake. They know that the audience expects them to die, so writers often neglect making them realistic.
“It” relies on the personalities of these kids to move the story forward, so they end up doing summer activities. They stomp through sewer sludge, tumble down hills, steal from convenience stores, make escapes on their 10-speeds and engage in an epic rock war (don’t try this at home).
The movie uses gags to dance the line between horror and comedy. There is a creaky door that ominously closes behind the characters, but only to reveal an embarrassingly ‘80’s poster. The hypochondriac kid has a cast someone signed “LOSER.” He changes the “S” to a “V” using his own blood.
The comedy is disarming and makes you care about the kids. You see them as human, which makes what happens to them all the scarier.
Parents care about the kids in this movie, but that is why they are the cause of their biggest fears. They want to hold on too tightly to their children, so they instill them with fear of the real world. That way they will never venture too far or get hurt.
The only aspect that holds the kids back are the fears their parents forced upon them. This is a point made by the Stephen King book and embraced by this movie.
The monster only has power if you are afraid of it. To let go of the fear, the kids must, in a way, let go of their parents.
“It” is a movie about embracing curiosity, abandoning the safe nest your parents built for you.
The kids learn to dare to become their own person by shedding their fearful expectations of an unpredictable, grown-up world.