A novel by Stephen King, It made its way to the screen with fantastic results. With a movie budget of only 35 million dollars, It managed to make about 100 million with a sequel already in the works. However, this doesn’t come as a surprise. It is chilling, humorous, and leaves plenty to think about.
Almost instantly, the audience realizes that the small town of Derry is somewhat peculiar. From the town”s tragic history to the numerous child disappearances, the town is almost cursed. The plot follows a group of middle schoolers, The Loser’s Club, who are all outcasts. Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and Stan (Wyatt Oleff) are all bullied for different reasons. Each member encounters “It” individually and in the form of their personal fears. However, Bill’s fear is the main reason the group goes after “It”, Pennywise the Clown. After Bill’s brother, George, is killed by Pennywise, guilt and sorrow consume Bill. Pennywise uses this as an opportunity to lure Bill by appearing as George’s ghost. After the group realizes that they all are being targeted, they work together to defeat “It” and protect their town from any future harm.
While the friendship of the group in the film is praised, critics have pointed out the sexualization of Beverly, the only girl member in the group. She is an outcast at school for being wrongly labeled as a promiscuous girl and, in the film, Beverly is shown as using her sexuality to get favors and being the love interest of both Bill and Ben. Her home-life is not any better with her abusive father being her biggest fear. Her terrifying encounters with Pennywise are always bloody and in her bathroom/bathtub. This parallels the horror novel, Carrie, also by King, in the famous scene where Carrie is fully covered in blood at her high school prom. While critics focus on her sexualization, there is little acknowledgment to the support she gets from the boys. The boys in the group never dismissed her experiences or made her feel less about her misleading reputation, with the exception of some sarcastic remarks. They even perform time-consuming labor to help her clean up the mess from the bloody bathroom. While male figures in Beverly’s life have been huge disappointments, the boys reassure her and go out of their way to rescue her from “It” when she is taken.
It is a typical coming of age story, where the children realize that their reality is not a perfect one. With no help from the adults, they spend their entire summer trying to locate “It” and the power of the friendship and teamwork is what eventually defeats Pennywise. Regardless, at one point in the story, their friendship is tested when the children start fearing for their lives and try to back out. However, when their friend’s life was threatened, together they saved their friend and faced their fears once and for all. Only in this way were they able to overcome their fears and diminish Pennywise’s power over them. Their experiences changed them and they all promise to reunite: “Swear to me swear to me that if it isn’t dead you’ll all come back.”
That’s the end to the first chapter and it provides a nice segue for the second chapter sequel, where the audience will get answers to the some of unresolved mysteries. Yet, as I was leaving the theater, all I could think is: What is my fear? Would I be able to overcome it? And what form would it take? All questions that left an uneasy feeling, long after the movie had ended.
Photo Credit: Christopher Pang