Better believe IT, remake of Stephen King’s classic kills box office and haunts audiences

Emma Knudson, Staff writer

“Go expecting jump scares, and you will be rewarded handsomely. But you’ll also find a well-crafted meditation on the pain that communities refuse to see and the effect that pain has on the young and powerless. It is a study in trauma to match the best of them.” That’s what Josephine Livingstone for New Republic concluded in her review of the ever popular It remake.

After a considerable amount of time reminiscing about the intricacies of the film, I couldn’t think of a better way to describe its core.

While the surface of the film portrays a surreal, fever-dream, child-targeting horror, the story goes beyond the numerous CGI-heavy jump scares. The self-proclaimed Loser’s Club becomes a force against not only the fear-starved demon clown of Derry, but a force against their own fears.

While the film abstains from the origin story of Pennywise, which I believe will be heavily developed in the now-confirmed sequel, it dives deep into the coming-of-age trope with the Loser’s club, yet developing it in such a way that viewers are heavily invested.

One of the most touching scenes was after the final battle with Pennywise, after he slinks back into the deeper sewers for another 27-year slumber. Having overcome their own fears, they have a moment to come down from the trauma of it all. Bill then kneels down to mourn not only the loss of his little brother Georgie, but to truly grieve in a moment of closure that had yet to be granted to him after endless searching, despite knowing the truth of Georgie’s demise. As he cries over the found boat he made for his little brother, the group gathers around him in a show of solidarity and friendship.

Without fear or hesitation at the nature of grief that so many people shy away from, they mourn together for him and their own losses: a family member, a childhood, dignity, safety, etc.

That moment, in conjunction with the hand-cutting scene in which they form a blood pact to ensure their return as a group to defeat Pennywise in his return, is symbolic of their maturation as a group, as they have been forced to step into adult roles that the actual adults refuse to fill.

The ignorance (and the consequential damage thereof) of the adults is something to be noted in the film, as well. Bill and Georgie’s father lashes out at Bill’s attempts to find Georgie, Eddie’s mother imposes fake medications on him to keep a sense of control over him, Beverly’s father sexually abuses her (he’s much scarier than Pennywise, in my mind), and so on. This grounds the film in a world of harsh self-reliance, such that the departure from blissful childhood days to facing one’s greatest fears becomes what is truly terrifying in the film. it’s something the entire audience can connect with on some level, perhaps without a shape-shifting, murderous clown.

The only thing that brought me down in the film was the heavy use of CGI. While I understand that it was necessary because of the surrealism of the plot, it became more comical at parts, rather than scary. Every time Pennywise unhinged his jaw to devour a child, his eyes would roll to the outer corners of his eyes, which took away from the sinister nature of the act.

Regardless, Bill Skarsgård was truly unsettling as Pennywise. The way he mocks Eddie’s asthma in a moment of intense confrontation gives me chills whenever I’m reminded of it: his heinous deviance is something not to be soon forgotten after seeing the film. And the emotional depth and exploration of the transition from childhood to adulthood isn’t to be soon forgotten, either. Any audience will leave the theater with a feeling of unease that will linger in their mind every time they see a sewer drain or a red balloon.