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IT’s Not Just a Movie, IT’s a Glorious Nightmare

By Mason Masotta; For The Clock
On September 16, 2017

IT’s Not Just a Movie, IT’s a Glorious Nightmare 

Mason Masotta

For The Clock 


W hy does it always have to be a clown? This was the question suffocating my mind when I sat down in the dark cinema as the film’s opening score rang out. The United States already has a strange relationship with clowns, from the revered performance of Heath Ledger as the ionic Joker to the repulsion of serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Add all of that to last year’s clown hysteria that ran rampant in universities across America, and the horror already associated with the traditional childhood amusers sets in, and creates one of the most traumatizing antagonists in film history.

IT started off as a 1986 novel by Stephen King, but the film that has taken the box office by storm is far more comparable to the 1990 TV miniseries of the same name.

The story remains the same: In the fictional town of Derry, Maine, a group of outcasts, (dubbing themselves “The Loser’s Club”) dodge murderous bullies before being threatened by a supernatural and murderous clown.

Each member of the Loser has fears and hidden desires that they must face in the shape shifting monster IT, if they have any hopes of surviving. To do this, they band together as a group of friends against the world, and as a viewer, one is compelled to develop an attachment to our heroes.

Characters such as Eddie (played by Jack Dylan Grazer), who is a sheltered germaphobe terrified of the world around him, to the potty-mouthed smart aleck of the group, Richie (played by Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard), are all endearing in their own right. Every time a Loser is threatened, one can’t help but be terrified of who may be lost and the void that would be left in this makeshift family.

Now, this is not to say that all of the Losers are enjoyable. Ben and Stanley (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor and Wyatt Oleff) serve more as plot devices to move the story, more than actual characters and drag in the second half of the film’s story once their purposes have been served.

Still, all of the Losers have fears to face in the true star of this film, who feeds off of their fear, Pennywise the shapeshifting jester.

The 1990 series delivered a campier and head-shakingly ridiculous villain, played by the legendary Tim Curry, but the 2017 “reboot” takes its villain completely seriously.

Bill Skarsgard is an absolute terror in this film. Out of costume and make-up he appears to be a cheerful Swedish gentleman, but once behind the sinister Pennywise smile, he is a demonic force that would put even the bravest movie goer in a state of shock. His voice is high pitched, yet like gravel to the ears.

His grimace snaps from inviting to sinister, playing on the pedophilic nature of the character and his obsession with devouring children. Even his physical stature alone is enough to invite hostility. Curry’s Pennywise was five feet and nine inches tall, whereas Skarsgard’s is a towering six foot and four inches tall, with a threatening hunch and a tendency to stare and drool over his prey.

The foundations for the ultimate horror movie are here, but this is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. There are plot holes, infuriating enough to confuse even the most focused critic. There are overly simplistic characters peppered throughout whom often drift in as if to say, “Don’t forget the source material is ridiculous!”

Still, with the odd awkward moment or two aside, this film delivers on being a thriller tapping into childhood fear in a way never done before. IT surpasses the original series and, quite frankly, the novel, in nearly every important way. 

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