Decatur High School, GA

“It” isn’t here to clown around

The town of Derry and its local demon, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, has returned to pop culture 27 years after the original “It” premiered on TV, the same time frame in between Pennywise’s reigns of terror in the storyline. Coincidence?

September 28, 2017

Stephen King has always been a go-to for horror. Movie producers probably sit in their offices and have their calendars marked for the next time a horror movie needs to be made. When the day comes around, there’s probably an alarm or someone shouting, “Y’all, it’s been three years since the last Stephen King movie, it’s time to make another one!” So, it is no surprise that another King movie has joined the long list of movie adaptations to his books. This time, instead of scaring the audience with a gunslinger or pig’s blood, theatres will be hit with a modern remake of the movie that sparked a generational fear of clowns. 

The town of Derry and its local demon, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, has returned to pop culture 27 years after the original “It” premiered on TV, the same time frame in between Pennywise’s reigns of terror in the storyline. Coincidence?

“It”’s announcement was accompanied by a terrifying trailer. The trailer starts with a sentimental scene, one that lures you into a false sense of security and almost makes you forget you’re watching a trailer for a horror movie. The trailer then cuts to the most iconic scene in the original “It” movie, the drain scene, which is powerful enough to erase all thoughts of safety for Derry’s children. The moment that cemented the horror of “It” came at the end with a blurry, dark shot of a murderous clown running and screaming. Those few seconds are enough to make anyone say, “Nope, not today,” and close the browser. 

These days, horror movie producers will stuff all the major scares into the first two minutes of trailers and save a few measly jump scares for the movie itself. This makes for a two-hour disappointment, and usually, the remaining jump scares are so predictable, they don’t even startle viewers.

Bill Skarsgård was the first person announced for the cast.

“It” was a nice break from the run-of-the-mill horror trailer. It was intense, but didn’t drop too many spoilers, which allowed audiences to create theories and develop genuine excitement for the movie. This excitement then carried into the movie itself, which was able to create absolute terror from a $35 million budget, which is surprisingly low.

Bill Skarsgård, the actor who plays Pennywise, had critics the moment his casting was announced. Tim Curry, the original Pennywise, is arguably one of the greatest actors of all time. His take on the homicidal maniac was amazing and left some comically large clown shoes to fill. Instead of trying to fill them, though, Skarsgård took a different approach. He immediately went away from the slightly kooky Pennywise and took his clown down a much darker, sinister root. Therefore, their performances are incomparable, seeing as they play two very different versions of the same character.

Even if you absolutely despise horror movies, I would still recommend “It.” Although, proceed with caution. When it wasn’t busy scaring the life out of you, it was a movie about friendship and growing up in a town of adults who have seem to forgotten the feeling of knowing too much and not knowing enough. “It”’s treatment of kids is possibly the most realistic representation ever in a horror movie. As “your mom” jokes and childish insults fly across the screen as frequently as the clown, you get to see the youth that is the center of “It.”The actors’ chemistry is palpable, and I would believe they had been friends before the movie was even announced.

Hidden underneath the youth of the movie, however, are issues that proved that the town of  Derry was dealing with more than just a dancing clown. There is little diversity within the Loser 7, with the only non-European-American character being Mike, who is African American. In the dialogue between Mike and the town bullies, it’s obvious that their hatred is based in racism, which makes the scenes harder to watch. The bullies come after everyone, but they seem to have it out specifically for Mike.

Alongside race issues, issues of femininity are also addressed in the movie. The only female in the Loser 7, Beverly, is introduced as someone who gets around. We see her bullied, and then we watch her sign an empty yearbook. The juxtaposition we see in her, mature and kind, is portrayed extremely well in scenes like the one where she flirts with the pharmacist so the other kids can steal some supplies. This then jars the audience when her storyline is further developed. Her interactions with her father are uncomfortable, and it’s clear that something is not right in the tiny apartment. She’s a loaded character, filled to the brim with symbolism and the ability to deal with six prepubescent boys.

If you are a horror movie fanatic, or you just enjoy a good scare, “It” will be worth your $9 or so. This movie was the first actually terrifying movie I’ve seen in awhile.

Try to see past the creepy clown, and really digest the movie. See it as a coming of age story instead of “just another clown movie.” Although, it does make a great clown movie.

*Photos courtesy Creative Commons

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