What’s the Deal with IT?

Clowns aren’t as scary as they seem


Boring. Overdone. Cliché.

Adapted from the 1986 Stephen King best-seller, spending 14 weeks atop of The New York Times best-seller list and a so-called, “improvement” of the 1990 mini-series, “IT” gets very few things right.

With a nightmare-ish story revolving around seven kids, six boys and a girl, each with a different blood curdling experience with an almost paranormal entity, are forced to save the small town of Derry, Maine. With bullies, creepy red balloons and blood, “IT” tries viewers emotional capacity for scary. Teens with no ideas on what to call their very own boy-eating creature who hibernates for 27 years at a time, call him IT.

“IT” capitalizes on jump scares and gore because the actual screenplay is not horror-inducing. Throughout the movie, some characters are stabbed, impaled and beaten with rocks and blunt objects. Another boy gets his arm bitten off, teens shoot guns and a sheep is killed with a bolt gun. Nothing that should conjure nightmares. Kids and coulrophobics (people who have a fear of clowns) would find this movie frightening, otherwise, this horror flick was pretty mellow with its “scare factor.” “IT” did not fill my once a month urge to be horror-stricken.

Out of the seven main child characters, only four have family involvement in the story. In the original “IT”, Bill’s mother has an important role where she grieves her lost son, and in this rendition, she doesn’t exist, except to be playing the piano in the background of an opening camera shot. The character development is very important to the overall storyline in any production, and in “IT”, the characters mostly lacked any background except, Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis.) Her character’s sexually abusive father is introduced to add another element to why Beverly chooses to hang with the guys rather than stay at home. The abuse she receives makes it hard for her to stay home. The other boys have little to no interaction with anyone but themselves, creating a close-minded picture of Derry. The boys only ever seem to talk about their families instead of seeing them on screen.

The clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), was the character with the most work put into his costume, character development and overall sense of self. In this rendition, the circus carny has a dark past as old as the city itself. Skarsgård fulfilled this role to perfection, maybe making his role my favorite part of the entire movie. Skarsgård manipulated his voice so frequently when speaking as Pennywise he created an ominous, almost screechy and shrill, sounding voice. This piece felt as though the clown’s voice should be deeper which spawned questions and kept the audience interacted.

Director Andy Muschietti uses many wide camera shots to capture the spookily scenic angles that add another eerie note to “IT”. With very few high profile movies under his belt, Muschietti has earned my praise for his filmography in this picture. The only other title he has directed solo is Mama (2013). I would have chosen a more acclaimed director to be the sole visionary of a classic like “IT.”

This is another movie that chooses a common fear people have and tries to exploit that phobia, yet this movie was a flop for me. As a person who is not afraid of the idea of clowns, “IT” did nothing more than just pass time. Muschietti cannot rely on just a common fear to captivate viewers, and those other elements a fear inducing film should have, were absent in the theatre.