The most recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It captures the concept of fear, nostalgia, suspense, and fun in a way that very few horror movies made in the last 20 years have been able to achieve.  

From the opening credits to the end of the movie, there is not one part of the film that does not elicit one of those feelings in one way or another.  The acting and direction are reminiscent of The Goonies and Stranger Things.  The music is ominous and driving, and the cinematography brings a claustrophobic feeling that will leave the viewer on the edge of their seat.

The film recreates the first half of the book, which initially takes place in 1957, and puts the “Loser’s Club,” a group of good-natured, adventure loving kids, in 1988, and genuinely represents many of the pop culture and domestic norms of the era.  The protagonists, Bill(Jaeden Lieberher), Richie(Finn Wolfhard), Ben(Jeremy Ray Taylor), Mike(Chosen Jacobs), Eddie(Jack Dylan Grazer), Stan(Wyatt Oleff), and Bev(Sophia Lillis), all represent the innocence and adventurousness that are idealized in children. 

In Derry, Maine, seven friends come face-to-face with a shape shifter, who takes the form of an evil clown who targets children.

Although a horror movie, the film is also a coming of age story of a group of friends who must overcome odds to stay together.  The actors who portray the Losers do a great job of keeping the suspense and fear that is expected of King’s magnum opus  in unison with the fun, childlike awe that a viewer can only enjoy with the talent of the actors portraying these characters.  

Bill Skarsgaard plays Pennywise the Dancing Clown, or “It,” in a much more violent and disturbing presentation than his TV miniseries predecessor Tim Curry [a man who made an entire generation of children afraid of clowns].  Skarsgaard’s voices and menacing smile throughout the film are the stuff of nightmares, but his marionette-like movements paired with his jolting, strobing gestures in many scenes are what will make a grown man walking into a basement quiver.

The supporting characters who do not have any supernatural powers create a very real statement about how outside influences can affect a person’s psyche.  The most evident example of that is the sociopathic Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), who does a masterful job of portraying a bully who will not stop without humiliating and hurting those who most fear him.  His character becomes a good parallel to the otherworldly horror that is Pennywise.  

Director Andy Muschetti makes a point to keep most of the shots very close to the actors, giving a very claustrophobic and dark aura to the film.  The viewer is very close to the nightmarish feelings of the main characters, and there are many allusions to the fears and curiosity of childhood that can be real or imagined.  Each character’s flaws, which are unique to each, are very relatable and palatable, and add to the intensity of the movie.  

The undertones of the movie are an integral part of the movie.  The real-life fears that the protagonists deal with over the course of the film are very real and widespread, minus the supernatural elements assigned to them in the film.  Each of the Losers emulate one or more of the real fears that can resonate with most people, and that makes the main characters even more likeable.  Besides the acting, which is spot-on to King’s characterization of the characters, the actors portray a group of good friends with similar interests that can join together and overcome anything.

Hick’s Flix Says: Overall, IT was a fascinating movie that stayed true to what may be Stephen King’s greatest story, and still can strike fear into any person looking for a thrill.  If you want to see a movie that allows you to wax poetic about what you and your group of friends did while growing up and walk out with goosebumps after the show, this is a movie for you.

About Dan Hickey

2 Responses to “Hick’s Flix: Stephen King’s IT”

  1. Andy Katzenmoyer

    Great Review, you nailed it! Even for those who are familiar with earlier adaptations, the cinematography and the screen-writing give the well-initiated the proper amount of angst that you need in a thriller such as this. No doubt why it broke opening weekend records.

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