By Tyler McMaster
On Sept. 8, director Andy Muschietti (Mama) unleashed his film adaption of Stephen King’s monumental novel. ‘IT’ has been one of this year’s most hyped movies and it is worth the wait and the praise.
‘IT’ takes place in the quiet town of Derry, Maine and centers around seven children who are seen as outsiders. The group finds comfort in one another as they become aware of an ancient evil that lurks beneath their town.
The kids are brought together not only by friendship and their status as “losers,” but by their mutual understanding of the creature that is haunting Derry. Each of the young cast members gives a knockout performance. Two of my personal favorites were Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak and Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh.
Lillis was spellbinding in her command of emotion and strength, proving to the audience that she is a talent to keep our eyes on. Grazer played the lovingly neurotic Eddie in a dutiful and heartwarming way, providing a character that an audience can relate to and cheer on.
It is difficult to focus on every member of the cast since each performance was essential to our feelings toward the deemed “Losers Club,” but I would be remiss if I did not dig into Bill Skarsgård’s adapted performance as the infamous Pennywise, the Dancing Clown.
Pennywise is an entity that once existed outside of our galaxy and has taken refuge in the town of Derry. He feeds off of our fears and pops up every 27 years. It has been 27 years since the original movie aired.
Originally helmed by Tim Curry, Skarsgård brought new and disturbing life to the clown of our nightmares. While only speaking several times in the film, his energy is prevalent. He performs with a child-like sensibility making it clear that Pennywise views the suffering of these children as a game and something that is fun for him.
The most impressive aspect of this adaption was not how faithful they tried to remain to the book, but the passion that was evident as they did so. The easiest way I can describe the feeling of this movie is it reminded me of being in a haunted fun house. The scares were relentless, but not stale.
Every shot felt like it had a purpose and the jump scares never felt contrite. The focus was not solely on the horror, but the wonder of childhood and comradery and the trust that comes with that.
Another aspect of the “fun house” imagery is found in the humor of the script. ‘IT’ has a lot of moments where the kids spar with one another in witty quips. Finn Wolfhard delivers a lot of the laughs as Richie Tozier, the wise-guy of the Losers Club. Humor helps to ease the tension that follows with Pennywise. This keeps the more tender moments between the children light and warm.
‘IT’ is more than a horror movie. The film serves as a reminder of the command Stephen King holds over storytelling. If he wanted to simply tell the story of a monster terrorizing children, the book would probably not be as influential as it is.
I hope that Muschietti’s vision is just as influential to other director’s and screenwriters everywhere. Horror can be fun, but it should also serve a purpose and feel genuine. ‘IT’ is one of the most genuine horror movies I have seen in a long time.