Dan's Review: "It" reinforces creepy fears
Sep 08, 2017 08:48PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf
Bill Skarsgård in It - © 2017 Warner Bros.
It (Warner Bros.)
Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.
Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott, Owen Teague, Logan Thompson, Jake Sim, Javier Botet, Tatum Lee, Steven Williams, Stephen Bogaert, Pip Dwyer, Cohen, Stuart Hughes, Megan Charpentier, Molly Atkinson.
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, based on the novel by Stephen King.
Directed by Andy Muschietti.
I am not a fan of horror movies, and I’m annoyed by clowns. After seeing It, the movie based on Stephen King’s novel about a creepy clown living in the sewers, I’m a little more than annoyed. Everyone should be. I have never understood the appeal of King’s horror novels (perhaps because of the aforementioned dislike of all things horror), with his penchant for showcasing evil in all its real and supernatural forms. Oddly enough, I love the films based on his stories that do not involve supernatural evil (Stand by Me, Delores Claiborne, Misery, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile are all very good, and very popular films). It is perhaps the creepiest of all King stories, and if you aren’t already scared of clowns, you will be within a few minutes of the opening credits (or at least more than annoyed).
Jaeden Lieberher plays young Bill, who sends his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) out to play with a paper boat in the rain gutters of Derry, a small Maine town in the summer of 1988. When Georgie’s boat drops into a storm drain, he tries to retrieve it, only to encounter Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), the creepiest of all clowns. Georgie disappears (rather violently), never to be seen again. A year later, Bill, still racked by guilt enlist his friends to keep searching the sewers and stream where the storm drains end, hoping to find his little brother. Georgie isn’t the only missing child from Derry, since a rash of disappearances flare up in the area every 27 years. Bill’s pals include foul-mouthed Rich (Finn Wolfhard), hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and a Jewish boy named Stanley (Wyatt Olef). Local bully Henry (Nicholas Hamilton) and his toadies are always tormenting the boys, who call themselves the “Losers.” Bill and & Co. pick up a few more allies in a chubby new kid named Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), a home schooled African-American named Mike (Chosen Hanlon) and Beverly (Sophia Lillis), a tomboyish girl with an undeserved reputation. As their investigation into the disappearances progresses, each child has visions or encounters with Pennywise or some form of the clown, creating a surplus of fear in the group. Being harassed and hunted by the bullies doesn’t help, either. The “Losers” eventually discover Pennywise’s hiding place, and stage a final assault, hoping to overcome their fears and find answers.
It is successful in creating and showcasing fear, albeit with a high dose of gory images and plenty of horrors involving kids. Behind all those horrific images and bloody scenes (King apparently has some sort of fetish with blood-soaked rooms) is a simple metaphor of confronting and overcoming your fears. Common fears like heights, spiders, snakes or dogs are perhaps a little more modest than a homicidal clown that abducts children into the sewer, so the simplicity of the message is conceivably lost in those pools of blood.
It’s story also has a lot of loose ends (another King staple) and a several horror clichés (like, “duh,” don’t run off by yourself in the creepy clown house…for the third time, and the ever-present creepy child’s song being sung by a trance-like kid as a backdrop). Such commonalities make It seem like your garden-variety horror flick, if not for the iconic clown that appears early and often in the film.
Skarsgård gets a lot of credit for playing the evil clown to perfection, and the newcomer cast of children show a lot of Spielberg-esque chemistry, making you think they could be banding together to save ET, instead of basically confronting Satan in a clown suit. One standout among the ensemble is Sophia Lillis as the lone female among the boys. She has real screen presence and bright future in films, so look for her next project.
If I didn’t emphasize enough already, It gets a very deserved R rating, and even though the movie features a cast of kids, it is not for kids of same age group depicted in the film.
One more thing: if a creepy clown starts a conversation with you from the inside of a storm drain, just run away. There really isn’t any potential for a good outcome there.