“IT” scares, delights and delivers

Drew Ewery
Staff Writer

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, I did not think the original It miniseries was scary or even all that good. I’d heard most of my youth of how the original portrayal of this aStephen King novel was one of the most frightening pieces of media ever. So, I spent most of my childhood afraid of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (the work’s antagonist) without having ever seen his source material just because people told me to. Once I finally got around to watching it, I could only laugh at the made-for-T.V. campiness of the project. As such, I went into this most recent movie adaptation of the same source material expecting to walk out with a grin on my face. I was dead wrong. Oh dear was I wrong. It’s been years and years since a movie has truly frightened me . . . but It left me utterly shaken. (Also as an aside, this review is going to be a bit difficult to read thanks to the short and generic title of the film, so please bear with me)
For those that aren’t familiar with this classic horror story, It follows a group of bullied children living in the magical faraway land of Maine. After each of them begins to see incarnations of their worst fears attacking them, accompanied by a horrendous clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), they band together to try and fight back against the horrors that come from the pits of their minds. It’s a rather timeless tale of camaraderie, courage, and mostly horror. Oh golly the horror. The story, for the most part, follows a formula of showing the main children having a whimsical good time, then showing us imagery that wouldn’t feel out of place in Hell to remind us what kind of movie we paid admission for. It’s definitely a good story. I was impressed with how well the plot established our characters, their stakes in the situation, and the absolute madness of the occurrence they’ve found themselves in. It does follow the contrived plot structure where the characters decide to quit about halfway through only to get back together almost immediately, and I’m getting rather sick of that plot thread. Also, the end the movie seems to drag painfully until the action picks up again, however I’m willing to look past this because of how great the climax was. Other than that, this story is gruesome, it’s brutal, it’s sinister in the absolute worst way. It’s a genuinely great tale; it just is surrounded by a miasma of darkness that will make it inaccessible to some audiences.
The characters are pretty good, but since this is based on an old Stephen King novel, they are quite based in tropes. We have the fat kid, the germaphobic kid, the African-American kid, the girl kid, the loud-mouth kid, etc. While there is a solid attempt at making them deep despite their archetypes, at the end of the day, they’re too defined by them. Moving on from the kids, though, we get to the best/worst part of the story; Pennywise the Dancing Clown. He is so dreadfully horrifying that I could hardly believe what I was watching at parts. Props to actor Bill Skarsgard for his portrayal that oozes intimidation, quirkiness, and savagery. Whenever he’s on screen there is nothing else you can possibly pay attention to because of how much emphasis the film places on him. He perfectly encapsulates the aspects of a clown blended into this psychotic monster of a character. The rest of the cast certainly do great jobs, with very few examples of botched lines and no portrayal I would simply call bad. The characters are good, just not great all in all.
The effects department did an excellent job bringing the horror of this story to life. Very rarely did I look at something on screen and think to myself that it was definitely computer generated. Yet the imagery is so detailed that there has to be some sort of digital work in them. The effects are so uniquely macabre that it feels they were having a ball coming up with them. A major complaint I have here is that the film is too reliant on jump-scares. Many times something will pop on screen and a loud noise will play to score some cheap jumps. However, I can’t deny how effectively and creatively the scares are when the movie gives itself some breathing room and give us slow burn frights.
This movie is a strong “R” rating. I would highly recommend not taking children to see it. At the screening I attended, multiple young viewers streamed out of the theater after particularly frightening scenes. Even to adults who can’t handle most horror movies, I recommend you skip this one as well. I honestly believe this is the scariest movie I have ever seen. There’s also a large amount of swearing, including the batch of the worst words. Suggestive material is also present in spades here. Bottom line, this movie is so scary and generally inappropriate that I advise the highest caution.
For fans of horror past and present and are confident in their general mental fortitude, I do recommend going to see It. The film has a quality story, enjoyable characters and constant creative scares. There are elements that work against its general quality, such as the prevalence of jump scares, but it’s still highly enjoyable. It is by no means a family film, but it is a good one. While horror films may not be my particular forte, I can honestly see this one going down as a modern staple of the genre. If you feel in the mood for some early Halloween scares and you feel confident you can handle it, I suggest giving it a watch.
Overall Percentage Score – 90%

Movie buff and binge watcher Drew Ewry is a 2016 graduate of Botkins High School and is currently majoring in english at Wright State University Lake Campus.