Halloween movie review: Stephen King’s ‘IT’ terrifies

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With patricide, killer clowns and a great sense of comedic timing, “It” is the film that’s got it all.

Directed by Andrés Muschietti, this adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel is great movie to watch for Halloween—if you’re prepared for intense jump scares and highly disturbing images.

Set in the town of Derry, Maine, the movie follows Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) and his band of “losers” as they work to fight off a supernatural evil, that takes the form of a killer clown known as Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), responsible for multiple mysterious child disappearances, while also dealing with everyday problems, such as bullying and family issues. They are also forced to face their own greatest fears, as the shapeshifting Pennywise manifests into the things they fear most in order to feed off their fears.

The movie begins with a gruesome scene showing the violent death of Bill’s brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), as he his dragged into the sewer by Pennywise. As summer approaches, Bill and his friends, Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Richie (Finn Wolfhard) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), take to the sewer to find the source of the evils that plague their town in order to vanquish it once and for all.

Along the way, they meet new friends like Beverley (Sophia Lillis), who deals with abuse from her father, and Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the new kid at school who’s bullied because of his extra thick form.

However, the movie goes beyond creating a scary movie to watch for Halloween. There are many jokes, mostly made by Richie, throughout the movie that help portray the childish nature of the characters in the movie while also creating a realistic dynamic between characters.

And while they may be overlooked while watching the movie, there are many themes and lessons present in the movie that range from teamwork to perseverance and even the cliched “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Skarsgård’s portrayal of Pennywise is one of the highlights of the movie, as he is able to perfectly capture the essence of the creepy killer clown while making the character appear eerily believable. The most frightening aspects of Pennywise are his crazed smile, manic laugh and creepy enunciations, all of which Skarsgård pulls off convincingly.

The movie does an exceptionally good job with its score. Between creepy music, whimsically nostalgic music and intense orchestral music, Benjamin Wallfisch is able to subtly emphasize the emotions of each particular scene without drawing attention away from them.  

The biggest downside to “It” is the excessive use of jump scares. These take away focus on the storyline because it leaves you constantly jolting and sitting on the edge of your seat instead of focusing on what else is happening in the scene. And while the jump scares are initially effective, they lose a lot of their luster when used so often, and in as predictable and formulaic of a manner as they are in “It.”

“It” is rated “R” because of the gore and language, so it may not be suitable for all people to watch. However, “It” is a great film to watch, whether you choose to do so for Halloween or for the simple pleasure of getting traumatized and never wanting to go near a sewer again. The second chapter of the movie will be released in 2019.