By Bailey Brammer | Editor-in-Chief
If you’re a self-proclaimed scary movie fanatic like myself, you’re always on the lookout for a film that will keep you at the edge of your seat. You want suspense and frights while enjoying the movie’s decent plot line.
Andy Muschietti’s remake of “IT,” released on Thursday, does all this and more. Adapted from Stephen King’s brilliantly-written 1986 novel, “IT” draws viewers in with the promise of a good scare but gets them to stay with a tale of seven outcast children who are searching for someplace to belong, giving audiences the right amount of humor along the way.
The movie is set in 1989 in Derry, Maine and begins with main character, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), losing his brother and best friend Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) to the captivating yet terrible Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) during a thunderstorm. Bill struggles with the death of Georgie throughout the movie and believes that they will be reunited once again, despite Georgie being gone for more than a year.
Bill’s character is painted as the tragedy-driven protagonist we all can relate to in one way or another. His consistent stutter offers a closer look into just how much of the loss of Georgie impacted him.
Among the others in the band of misfits is Beverly (Sophia Lillis), a Molly Ringwald-esque tomboy who is fearless in the face of Pennywise, as well as in the face of her sexually abusive father. Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the chubby “new kid on the block” is entranced with Beverly and becomes a part of an adorably innocent love triangle with her and Bill, and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) is a quiet African-American home-schooler who lives on a farm with his grandparents after the death of both of his parents.
The “Losers’ Club” is not only tormented by the deadly clown, but also by a group of particularly violent bullies. It is a union against these bullies and the desire to rid their hometown of Pennywise that drives the seven outcasts together and cements their friendship for good.
Although Pennywise is terrifying on his own, when he begins haunting the children, he takes the shape of what scares each individual character the most. In the movie, that can be anything from a leper to a misshapen painting come to life. In Bill’s case, it is the decaying body of Georgie.
The brilliance of King’s idea of fear forces viewers to examine what scares them the most. Even if clowns or dead bodies won’t do them in, Pennywise is endlessly creative in his attempts to horrify the children of Derry.
Although Pennywise individually targets the characters with their darkest fears and seeks to get them alone, Bill and Beverly realize that the only way to defeat the monster is to work together rather than let IT tear them apart. This embodies a theme that is evident throughout the movie—the notion that we are stronger united.
The actors offer a break from the terror with their foul mouths and ill-mannered jokes. While crass in some cases, their dark humor adds more to the plot by reinforcing that these characters are indeed children, and they shouldn’t have to be concerned with the killer clown on the loose in their city.
Other well-done aspects of the movie include the cinematography and the music. Many of the jump scares are sudden and unexpected, which is difficult to come by in modern horror films. Similarly, unique camera angles offer viewers an experience that stays true to the eerie nature of the film. Darker lighting is evident in parts when Pennywise is present, and brighter lighting acts as a brief solace from the terror. The music is beautifully composed and adds a great deal to the film by giving viewers chills at all the right parts.
For any movie-goers like myself who can’t see a flick without first reading the book, you’ll be happy to know that Muschietti’s adaptation of “IT” stays true to the original storyline in almost every way. The movie also plays homage to details that King mentions in his meticulously written novel, including panning to certain street signs at various parts of the movie, as well as emphasizing Bill’s stutter or lack thereof when he speaks to his brother.
“IT” is currently playing at the Waco Hippodrome, AMC Classic Galaxy 16 and Regal Jewel Stadium 16 in IMAX and standard showings.