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COLUMN: “IT” wants more from its viewers than cheap thrills



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"IT," a supernatural horror film, was released on Sept. 8. Bill Skarsgård stars as Pennywise the Dancing Clown.  Movie Stills Database Buy Photos

The 2017 film “IT” wastes no time in the opening scenes, as it jumps to the infamous evil clown Pennywise’s freakishly smiling face peeping out of a sewer within the first 10 minutes. 

Personally, I hate when horror films are filled with dramatic music and characters looking over their shoulder to find nothing for the first hour of the movie.

So the fact that Pennywise ripped off the arm of the 7-year-old boy Georgie and dragged him down the sewer right off the bat made me think I needed to buckle in because this was a real horror film. 

However, as the film goes on I quickly learned the film has a much stronger motive than getting me to jump out of my seat in fear. 

To set the scene for Stephen King's “IT,” the film takes place in Derry, Maine, during 1988. It’s an average small town with an odd reoccurrence. Every 27 years, people disappear, especially children. Georgie was a victim of these disappearances caused by Pennywise. 

Georgie’s older brother Bill refuses to accept that he is dead. As abnormalities in the town heighten among Bill and his friends, they continue to seek the truth about why Georgie and other children continue to vanish. 

While clowns are the face of this film, “IT” is about much more than sharp teeth munching on children. In fact, I’d argue that this film isn’t so much about gore and horror at all. “IT” is a psychological thriller that aims to make the watcher experience déjà vu. 

The film exposes the biggest fears of each character. The hypochondriac Eddie continues to see a zombie-like monster carrying a plethora of diseases, Bill sees his dead brother and classmate Richie sees clowns. Yet as the viewer moves from scene to scene, “IT” makes us ask the question, was it real or just a child’s imagination gone rogue?

I found myself reflecting on the days when I feared that the porcelain doll sitting on my bureau would come alive or the creaky noises my floorboard made were monsters coming for me. The film reminds viewers of moments that, as children, seemed so real, yet in reality strayed far from it. 

The way the film makes viewers reflect on their own childhood fears is subtle yet effective until the very end. The purpose behind this film is frankly too blatantly stated that in order to overcome your fears you must look it straight in the eye. 

It was a little cliché for my taste, but I can’t complain too much considering how rare it is today to come across a horror film without an atrocious storyline. 

The film has its fair share of scenes when you’ll shiver, and I’ll admit Pennywise’s freakish smile may stick with you a couple hours after you leave the theater. However, the film won’t leave you with a distinct fright.  

While there are spookish zombies, unnerving monsters and spine-chilling clowns, I don’t think fear is the driving factor behind this movie. 

The film most importantly aims to reminds us that we aren’t kids anymore, and that the fears living in the dark, under our beds or in our closets don’t exist. 

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