“It” Floats to #1 Two Weeks in a Row
by Israel Gomez
Nearly three decades after the original miniseries took over television sets, Stephen King’s “It” returns, breaking box office records in the process. Directed by Andy Muschietti and starring Bill Skarsgård as the titular creature, this reboot blows the 1990 miniseries out of the water through its eerie cinematography and charismatic cast.
The novel, which the original miniseries and reboot are based on, was written by Stephen King and published in 1986. The story follows a group of children, known as the Loser’s Club, as they must battle the entity known only as It: a shapeshifting creature, usually taking the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, that feeds on children’s flesh and fears. The miniseries, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring legendary actor Tim Curry as It, is rather funny to go back and watch. The low quality effects, awkward pacing, and corny acting came together to create a cheesy horror flick. However, Curry’s chilling yet humorous performance as the killer clown assured that “It” made its mark on the horror genre and in kid's nightmares, even if the show was not that scary.
Muschietti’s 2017 reboot makes it clear that, although it is is the same story, it is a very different movie. An early opening scene proves this: six-year-old Georgie Denbrough takes his paper boat out for a sail on a rainy day, but loses it after a stream takes the boat into a sewer. While peeking into the sewer in search of his boat, Pennywise, lures him in closer by revealing his boat. In the original film, this scene ends with a closeup of Curry’s Pennywise flashing a mean set of monstrous teeth, leaving the rest up to your imagination. The reboot, on the other hand, does not, making the outcome clear (and unforgettable). The gruesome opening scene reminds viewers just how much times have changed since the airing of the miniseries, when excess violence and gore resulted in public outrage. Now, violence and gore can build movie franchises, such as the “Saw” series. “It” follows this trend of unrestricted violence throughout the film, and, when mixed with the eerie directing and music score, provides the audience with genuinely frightening horror scenes that do not solely rely on jump scares.
Style and shock value is not all that it takes to make a good horror movie though. A film’s cast can make or break the film, leading it to become either a legendary or a straight-to-Redbox film. The line between these two outcomes becomes even thinner for horror movies, which can become more like comedies if the cast reacts too unbelievably. The talent of the cast in “It” assures the film’s legendary status. The child actors in “It” consist of seven kids, whose onscreen chemistry makes you honestly believe they have been friends for years. Examples of this unity can be seen when the group fights off bullies and in the scenes where they make jokes about each other’s moms. One performance that stood out came from Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, who audiences might recognize from “Stranger Things.” His immature jabs at the other characters provide the audience with much needed comic relief in this otherwise overwhelmingly morbid film. Though the overuse of CGI on Pennywise can make some of the antagonist’s moments look silly, Skarsgård’s Pennywise will remain in our nightmares after watching “It.” Skarsgård goes to great lengths to deliver a very different Pennywise from Curry’s performance, and the film, as a whole, has a much darker tone compared to the original. Skarsgård’s demonic behavior as Pennywise never lets viewers forget how dangerous the entity It really is, even when delivering a joke or giving one of his staple, bucktoothed smiles.
“It” proved itself to be a worthy successor and homage to King’s novel and the original series. The movie undoubtedly makes its mark as an epic horror film, and its box office performance reflects this. “It” had the third best opening weekend this year, at around $120 million, and has accumulated $478 million worldwide as of Sept. 24. This box office success has made “It” the highest grossing R-rated film, ever. This film is definitely worth catching in theaters, though don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking at balloons differently afterwards.