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“It” Proves To Be Both Horrifying and Heartwarming

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

By Molly Sipes, Staff Writer

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Despite the endless anticipation and hype for the sheer terror expected in the 2017 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, It, the movie’s actual delivery of said terror left a lot to be desired.

Not to say that the film was a failure. The script was hilarious, giving the mainly preteen cast an unabashedly real sense of humor. The characters were thoroughly developed, and the cinematography was unexpectedly beautiful.

That was the problem: the movie, directed by Andrés Muschietti, spent most of its runtime solidifying relationships and shoving character development down your throat when it should have been focusing on having its allegedly murderous clown actually kill people.

The movie is set in the small town of Derry, Maine in the 1980’s, equipped with all the stereotypical small town necessities — children running unsupervised through the streets, the token decrepit abandoned house on the block, and, not to be forgotten, the seedy underbelly. In this case, the scares came in the form of the supernatural, child-murdering clown, Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgård.

The movie (and Pennywise) follows the seven members of the self-proclaimed “Loser’s Club.” The kids are all misfits for different reasons. Bill Denbrough, played by Jaeden Lieberher, the group leader, experiences so much grief after the disappearance of his younger brother, Georgie Denbrough, played Jackson Robert Scott, that his stutter progressively worsens.

With Denbrough, comes his geeky friends: resident momma’s boy Eddie Kaspbrak, played by Jack Dylan Grazer, and nervous Jewish outcast Stanley Uris, played by Wyatt Oleff.

Joining the boys later in the film are “fat boy” Ben Hanscom, played by Jeremy Ray Taylor, homeschooled farm hand, Mike Hanlon, played by Chosen Jacobs, and the sole female of the group, Beverly Marsh, played by Sophia Lillis, who has falsely earned the reputation of a girl who sleeps around.

Together, this motley crew faces the worst — from standing up to an overlooked violent gang of bullies, to fighting the embodiment of paranormal evil, the not-so-happy clown, Pennywise.

I was especially impressed by the scene capturing the children seeking out the clown in the decrepit house bordering the woods for the first time. After Denbrough gives an inspiring speech about saving not only themselves, but the generations to come, from Pennywise, the kids storm the house, encountering terrifying tricks at every turn. Utilizing the kid’s fears, Pennywise is able to isolate them, rendering them defenseless.

During this scene, both the kids and the audience realize that the unity of the “Loser’s Club” is the only thing that could potentially defeat Pennywise. The way the director chose to portray the characters during their individual encounters of being cornered by their biggest fear drew great sympathy from the audience. The heroic protagonists are shown as what they really are: children — scared and inexperienced — up against something much more powerful than they are.

This moment emphasizes that their friendship is absolutely crucial to their survival.

Unfortunately for the children, they don’t discover this until later on in the movie, and the audience first has to endure a heart-wrenching fight scene between the group. It was devastating to watch, knowing that the disbanding of the kids was caused by their fear, when their union was so critical to defeating Pennywise. However, soon after, almost comically, it is fear that reunites them again.

Through the bond these kids form with one another, and the courage that the bond gives them, the members of the “Loser’s Club” are able to overcome the very real fears they face in their everyday lives, found for most of the kids in their parental figures.

The true terror in this film is the way the parents treat their children. It was hard to tell if some of the kids even had parents, or a home for that matter.

These kids roamed through sewer systems and old, abandoned houses without a single objection from their mom or dad, who were never mentioned in the film. For the kids whose parents did exist, they only appeared as hermits who forced fake illnesses on their children or had sexual assaulting tendencies. It makes sense that the kids find the courage to seek out Pennywise when they have parents like theirs (or no parents at all) at home.

Although it’s advertised as the tale of a horrifying clown terrorizing a group of kids, that’s not how the story played out. While the movie was overflowing with jumpscares of gore, it was difficult to consider a horror film. The strength of the character’s bond, their intricate relationships, and overlapping back stories, are what created something resembling more of a coming of age film, a story of childhood.

What truly mattered in the end was the fierce friendship, loyalty, and blind bravery of youth, built on the foundation of trying to survive.

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“It” Proves To Be Both Horrifying and Heartwarming