by Owen Steffan ’18
From children joking one minute to a horrifying killer clown scaring audiences the next, “It” succeeds with its seamless blend of humor and terror. Based on the critically acclaimed 1986 Stephen King novel of the same title, this highly anticipated R-rated horror film takes place in the 1980s in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. After several odd disappearances of the town’s youth, seven children quickly find themselves menaced by a terrifying, shapeshifting killer clown known as Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgard). As they discover that Derry’s adults don’t realize the weird happenings in the town, the children decide to fight Pennywise themselves.
The self-proclaimed “Losers’ Club” is led by stuttering Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) who is out to avenge the death of his younger brother, Georgie, the clown’s first victim. The club also includes loudmouth Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) and the hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer). Each member of the Losers’ Club deals with bullies, strict parents, and/or young love. Rounded out by Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), and Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) this group consists of lovable yet damaged children, who have each been affected in their own ways. These relatable members of The Losers’ Club are made especially great by their sense of humor.
Humor is something rarely seen in modern day horror, and it can add a whole other element to the table when done right. Wolfhard particularly shines as Richie, constantly making unexpected but hilarious jabs at his friends or showing off his many voices. Sometimes, the movie is so funny that you forget you’re watching a film about a killer clown. Director Andrés Muschietti and writers Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman excellently balance amusing and eerie moments.
It, a mysterious being that morphs into whatever/whoever it pleases, most commonly appears as Pennywise and terrorizes each kid in unique ways that feed on their fears, terrorizing the viewer as well. Leaving red balloons wherever he goes, Pennywise’s menacing eyes and creepy smile are enough to freak out even the toughest of people. One scene that stands out in particular is when Pennywise is talking to Georgie in the sewer drain. The clown has blood and water spilling out of his mouth, but doesn’t wipe his chin or acknowledge the mess. This might seem like a very miniscule example, but it is one of the aspects that make Skarsgard’s portrayal so brilliant: he makes sure Pennywise is as inhuman as possible, bringing a level of insanity to his character that makes him one of the most terrifying horror villains of recent memory.
“It” is not just one of the best horror films of the year, but one of the best overal films of 2017. “It” toys with viewers’ emotions by putting lovable characters in terrifying situations, while also adding lighthearted moments of banter.