BY SOPHIA WENGIER
This article contains spoilers
Just in time to get into the Halloween spirit, Stephen King’s “It” comes to theatres, terrifying audiences and breaking box office records. The highly anticipated horror movie is an adaptation of King’s 1986 novel about a murderous clown, named Pennywise, who can turn into the worst nightmare of any frightened child. While the film masters typical horror techniques such as jump scares and gore, it also fearlessly dives into the dark and disturbing side of human nature, leaving audiences scared of more than just the homicidal clown.
“It” follows the lives of seven middle schoolers who band together for a common goal: to protect themselves from their ruthless school bullies. When children start to go missing, including the little brother of one of the main characters, the group begins to investigate. The kids soon find a pattern of deaths and missing person cases happening in abundance every 27 years, following the typical movie trope of a small town with a mysterious history. Soon, the seven friends experience their own encounters with Pennywise, with each one uniquely reflecting the individual child’s worst fears. The remainder of the film centers around the group protecting each other from their bullies and fighting the monster that has been terrorizing their town for years.
“It” tackles topics far more bloodcurdling than Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. It stares down the worst parts of human behavior in a terrifying, unsympathetic way, forcing the audience to question the morality and virtue of our own species. The bullies and parents of the characters were often times far more unnerving and hair-raising than the actual monsters. Beverly, the only girl in the group, is characterized as a fearless lone wolf who can take care of herself. However, her horror comes with her abusive father who she lives alone with. Although the film does not reveal any extreme details, every interaction between the two characters is absolutely chilling. Scenes of Beverly locking herself in the bathroom to escape her father reinforce the abhorrence of his abuse. The film expertly weaves the horror of the clown in with Bev’s greatest fear by setting her confrontation with Pennywise in the bathroom, turning her only safe haven from her father into a place of terror.
This theme of evil in the form of humans does not just appear in Beverly’s father. The town bullies prove to be far more frightening than one would expect. The film shows graphic scenes of the main bully carving his name into one of the boy’s stomachs with a pocket knife and relentlessly hunting the group with a clear goal to murder them. Throughout the movie, the sickening acts committed by the bullies against the main characters seem to reflect the horrific side of human nature that hates others for their race, abilities, appearance or social status. The themes of anti-Semitism, mental illness, and the over-sexualization of young girls are also hinted at many times during the film.
“It” skillfully balances out its terror with comedy and themes of loyalty and friendship. While there is no doubt that the movie will make you jump in your seat, “It” will also make you smile and laugh. Finn Wolfhard’s character Richie lightens the mood of many intense scenes through his comedic relief lines that are hilarious without trying too hard. The film also portrays the group’s fierce loyalty to each other as they face their greatest fears and risk their own lives to protect each other, assuring that after it chills you to your bones, it also warms your heart.
Overall, “It” had an interesting storyline that was filled to the brim with terrifying scenes and effects, yet remained enjoyable from beginning to end with its comedic relief and character relationships. It tackled a huge variety of themes from human fallibility to how and why we face our greatest fears. The graphics and effects were a huge improvement compared to those of the original 1990 film and were usually pretty realistic. The movie is definitely a must-see for anyone who is prepared for the disturbing topics and gore that characterize it.
- Great acting
- Interesting storyline
- Nice mixture of horror and comedy
- Effects were sometimes unrealistic and overdone
- Tons of gore
Photo courtesy of “It” movie franchise