Despite the challenge of depicting child violence in mainstream cinema, “IT” brushes the dirt and prepubescent blood off its shoulders and comes out shining. Honestly, could anyone be surprised that the movie’s first five minutes feature a dismemberment? I mean, how much can we really expect from children versus evil? Not much — or so you think.
Originally a novel published by Stephen King, Warner Bros. manages to produce a good film on more than just the writer’s brilliance and a popular storyline. A stellar cast of young actors directed by Andy Muschietti — which included Finn Wolfhard from “Stranger Things” — propel the film from a regurgitated classic to a solid, end of summer horror flick. “IT” has just the right amount of scare to usher in Halloween while keeping the high-action pacing of a summer blockbuster. Invoking a certain childhood nostalgia, “IT” is a movie that begs to be watched at a drive-in theatre with a blanket and your high school crush.
The movie chronicles a group of elementary friends referred to as the “Loser’s Club” who find themselves facing an ancient, evil force called “It” that manifests itself as the victims’ deepest fears. Every 27 years, It comes out of hiding and uses the sewers of Derry, Maine, to prey on the town’s children. Though It has an infinite amount of forms, he prefers the guise of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, a classic white-faced carnival terror with glowing yellow eyes. Unlike the It from Tommy Lee Wallace’s ‘90s-era mini-series, Muschietti’s wears grimy clothes and leaves his squeaky red nose and sense of humor behind.
Regardless, “IT” isn’t all that scary. Maybe because It can only take on the guise of what’s truly scariest to the characters, not the viewers. If you’re not afraid of clowns, lepers, blood, dead relatives, or distorted faces, “IT” might just not be that scary. Unlike other horror movies though, “IT” breaks a few conventions by allowing the creature to attack anywhere at anytime. The Losers are equally at risk in a field at noon or in a creepy church at night. There is no escaping It, even if other people were right there next to you.
Ironically, a lot of the movie’s parental figures are far scarier that Pennywise. An emotionally abusive father, a pedophilic pharmacist, and a hypochondriac are just a few of the oppressive adults hovering over the Loser’s Club. No matter where the children go, some type of evil follows them. However tough it is to face their parents individually though, in unity they can face the various embodiments of It.
Even if “IT” falls short in the horror category, Muschietti uses the the clown trope to seamlessly balance adolescent themes with brutality. The movie’s effects prove to be just the right amount of cartoony, even when there’s a tween carcass hanging from the rafters. There are also a few “your mom” jokes slyly placed into dialogue about murder and abuse.
Ultimately, “IT” proves to be a great movie if not particularly scary. I’d even go as far as to recommend it. Now, I wouldn’t say it’s worth a pricey theatre ticket under any circumstances. If you can’t go to the drive-in like I mentioned earlier, “IT” is probably best enjoyed from the comfort of your own home once it’s released.