Writer: Felicity Veliz
I’m embarrassed to say I’ve always been scared of clowns. But, ironically, Stephen King’s It, I can honestly say, marked itself a place as one of my favorite movies of the year.
The movie is remarkable, considering the number of great films King’s writing has inspired; a movie that could be among the best adaptations of his work. There is a scene that is shown halfway through into unexpected gore that it’s almost impossible to not be jolted by memories of The Shining or Carrie – still, even after four decades, the best King adaptations.
The novel It is a large book that consists of 1,300 pages that are a useful source of thrills. Like most King stories, it’s a story about the innocence of childhood, and the aching loss of it; about the memories of the past and the trauma growing up.
The movie begins with a paper boat floating across the water. A young boy named Georgie chases after it, always a little too far behind. The boat then gives Georgie a slip--picking up the speed when he expects it to slow down and gets caught in the sewer. Then suddenly, we see a horifying entity appear inside the same sewer the paper boat got sucked into. After being gone for 27 years, the clown had chosen that day to return, and young Georgie, who reached into the sewers in a flailing attempt to find his boat, didn’t realize he’s staring death in the face.
It calls itself Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and with traumatic force pulls Georgie into the sewer. “We’ll all float down here,” It says, conveying the movie and books original line, “You’ll float too.”
Six months pass and brings seven kids together that call themselves The Losers. With the foolish bravery only kids in movies can have, they realize that they alone can get to the bottom of the odd events which only happen in their hometown, Derry. And because there have been other kids who have disappeared and the clown has been spotted in a variety of places around town, they conclude that the two ideas must be connected.
This is what starts the story.
The film is as much a coming-of-age story as it is a horror movie. And maybe even more. The movie has scenes and situations that happen to be very similar to JJ Abrams’ Super 8, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and any number of Steven Spielberg films. It has essentially created a genre we now associate with an entire decade.
It is at it’s best, ironically for a scary movie, when it’s not frightening kids every 15 minutes but when making the crowd laugh. Pennywise was truly frightening – every time he appeared on screen, and it’s just the right amount of time, the audience at my screening grew visibly uncomfortable. It, the movie, lives and dies with The Losers. Their carefully fleshed out stories, the bullying they endure, and the strong friendship they have helped them survive.
With It, the director, Andrés Muschietti, has made one of the greatest horror films I’ve seen. The film is heartwarming, frightening and will leave you in suspense throughout the whole movie. And having all three in one doesn’t get better than that.
It floats. You’ll float too.