Movies in the horror/ thriller genre today seem all too similar to each other. They either involve ghosts, or possessed people, or zombies, or something “based on true events.” The majority of modern horror films just end up retelling the same old cliches over and over in some way or another. There’s a depletion of originality in horror films these days. That’s why the 2017 movie “Get Out” — a film about a young African American man going into the country to meet his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents, only to find out they engage in the practice of transplanting the brains of their older relatives into the young, in-shape bodies of young black males— did really well and received a lot of praise. Originality.
I walked out of seeing the highly anticipated movie “It”, based on horror/ thriller novelist Stephen King’s book of the same name, feeling satisfied.
The story centers around the town of Derry, Maine which is plagued every 27 years by tragedy and horrific deaths.
The year is 1988 when the movie opens with young Georgie Denbrough (played by Jackson Robert Scott) watching his older brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), sick in bed, make him a paper boat.
Young Georgie takes the boat along with gutter, as rain is cascading down filling the sides of the neighborhood street with rushing water.
His boat gets away on him, making its way into a drain, where the iconic moment of the story begins.
As Georgie peers down into the black abyss of the drain, filled with nothing but the sound of rain water, two yellow eyes emerge.
When the face of a clown emerges from the dark, this is when the audience gets it’s first look at the antagonist, Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård), and just how violent he can be.
What begins as a seemingly innocent exchange, though Pennywise can’t completely hide the evil he is, turns into the crux of the story.
Children are going missing throughout Derry at an alarming rate. And a group of kids, led by Bill and calling themselves the “Losers Club”, who have all witnessed Pennywise in some nightmarish form or another, soon figure out what’s behind the disappearances and attempt to fight the problem head on. This is all while each of the kids are battling problems in there own lives.
The imagery behind this movie is what stood out most. Pennywise, a creature of unknown origins, lived off the fear of children, and knew just what they were afraid of. At one point, we see Pennywise take the form of a tragic scene one of the children in the Loser’s Club later admits to witnessing.
The way Skarsgård portrayed Pennywise reminded me of another 80s horror icon, Freddy Kreuger, from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films.
Similar to Kreuger, not only did he have a hatred for his young victims, he took pleasure in playing with them, taunting and antagonizing them before killing them. Skarsgård was perfectly cast for the role as the actor has a boyish, innocent look, which was necessary in portraying a monster disguised as a clown searching for opportunities to lure kids.
The one problem I had with “It” were the jump-scares. There were too many, and they eventually became predictable and unnecessary. There’s only so many times they can work in a movie.
The one most impressive actor was Finn Wolfhard, who portrayed “Richie Tozier” — the comic relief in the story. His quips were so well delivered and timed perfectly.
Wolfhard was nominated for a Teen Choice Award earlier this year for his role as “Mike” in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” His professional acting ability was really visible in this movie. His was a perfect casting decision.
“It” made a successful effort at being an original film. It didn’t appear as though it wanted to be a remake of the earlier movie that was released on television in the early nineties. The movie avoided the modern cliches in scary movies, and went for originality in delivery, and appearance, creating true scares and unique uneasy feelings just not common in modern horror movies.
The original “It”, which aired on television in 1990, has always brought a symbolic image of the creepy clown into my head.
The movie begins with the iconic scene of the sweet little boy named Georgie floating his boat in the rain down the street. The boy was hesitant until the clown from the sewer befriended him — before the first attack took place.
This is where Pennywise first appears and has left the creepy clown stamp forever on my brain. The new Pennywise’s costumes and coloring make him seem even creepier and more psychotic, which made him seem less silly than the original version. The original costume made Pennywise seem more like Bozo the Clown, while the updated costume for the new version was reminiscent of a 1900’s vintage freak show. It was so creepy that it gave me anxiety.
The characters were played in a similar fashion to the original version, with all of their quirks with they juvenile humor and puns. It was better than the original. I hope that the adult characters acting in the anticipated sequel have more depth the original. I mean, the late John Ritter, who starred in the original version, should only be used for comic relief and not horror. The films humor was so entertaining that it made the whole theater laugh out loud at times.
The pace of the movie was better than the original, with everything flowing along nicely. Each of the scenes with Pennywise and the children grew progressively more intense than the last. In one scene, we see Ben Hanscom (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor) first encounter the monster in the library after looking at horrific photos of an Easter Egg Hunt Festival. He starts finding burning eggs down the eerie steps of the old library. It made the perfect setup for his first in counter Pennywise, taking the form of what Ben fears.
The scoring, done by Benjamin Wallfish (Atonement, 12 Years a Slave), was on point, matching the music perfectly with the tone of each scene. You knew something was going to happen as you knew that JAWS was about to pop up but you didn’t know when. The setting, Derry, Maine, was picturesque with its red covered bridges and floral lampposts and the Norman Bates type of home sitting on a overgrown lot, providing a perfect backdrop for the scary elements of the film.
The special effects and cinematography were outstanding, my favorite being when Penny introduced himself to all of the children in the group while they were in a darken garage watching a slide show, which turned into Pennywise literally coming out of the wall. Reminded me of a Nine Inch Nails video.
All and all, even though I have read the book and watched the original, there were some new and exciting additions to a great classic. I give it four popcorns out of five.