“IT” Brings a Genuine Horror Story Back to Theaters


In this adaptation of the 1986 horror classic, Bill Skarsgård plays Pennywise the clown. (IMAGE COURTESY OF IMDB)


In 1986, legendary horror writer Stephen King released his 18th novel, “IT”, a whopping 1200-page thriller following a group of children escaping a demon-like shapeshifter who typically houses itself as Pennywise, a clown. The book skyrocketed to popularity, and shortly after a 1990 miniseries was released. However, the lasting impression of fear imbued into readers and viewers alike led to the 2017 revival of the horrifying clown tale, this time as a major motion picture. And, it certainly surpassed all standards, quickly becoming the must-see film of the fall.

The year was 1958 in the quaint town of Derry, Maine. Young children are mysteriously disappearing, their bodies nowhere to be found. But six kids, who call themselves “The Losers’ Club,” decide to track down the killer—only to find out that the killer is actually a thing rather than a person. It lives in the sewer and takes the shape of each child’s greatest fear, sadistically manipulating and attacking each child in unique ways. As the scenario quickly shifts into a survival situation, the group of kids must either band together and fight the beast or be devoured by it instead.

This adaptation, directed by horror veteran Andrés Muschietti (“Mama”) remains truer to the novel than the miniseries. With advancements in CGI as well as the incredible cinematography skills by Chung-hoon Chung, the film is much darker than its predecessor. Audiences are able to see IT’s shapeshifting skills as well as effects that are realistically terrifying, providing viewers with scenes so scary they are beautiful.

But, with the 90’s miniseries in mind with Tim Curry starring as Pennywise, newcomer Bill Skarsgård has big shoes to fill. Curry’s campier representation of the clown appears extremely innocent until he reveals his true intentions towards the kids. His makeup and costume is polished, looking as if he stepped right outside of a carnival. As a result, when Pennywise reveals his malintentions, he is realistic and scary.  

Skarsgård takes a more malicious approach to the character, and his performance is easily one of the best in the film. Pennywise looks like the type of clown you would never want to face, and Skarsgård himself imbues the character with the qualities that make IT so terrifying. He lashes, lunges, bites, slithers and disappears with an eeriness that keeps you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the film. Whenever he appears, he is terrifying, and he easily is the reason that the film is such a successful adaptation.

However, not to be ignored are also the performances of the children themselves. The seven members of “The Losers’ Club” were excellent. Each actor gave an incredibly convincing performance—they were able to switch easily from a happy, joyful scene to one of sheer terror in only a few seconds. And their terror was believable, which is hard to accomplish in a horror film.

The best thing about “IT,” though, is the entire picture. Every aspect of the film, from its acting, cinematography, and sets all merge together to create a beautiful picture. The combination of scenes filled with childhood innocence with darker, terrifying moments was the perfect balance to let viewers laugh in their seats and then jump shortly after. It takes both the novel and the 90’s miniseries and uses them to create a new production that is similar enough to remind viewers what they are watching while also redefining itself as a new project entirely. What seemed like a worry is now a smash hit, and “IT” is well-deserving of any and all of its praise.