‘It’: Characters are complex, realistic, and worth caring about

The long-awaited adaptation of the Stephen King novel is worth the hype, says our reviewer.


Brooke Palmer, Warner Brothers Entertainment

This movie is rated “R,” no one under 17 admitted, because of its horror, bloody images, and language.

The movie “It” is set in the late 1950s in a small town in Maine and focuses on the outcast friends of a boy, (Bill), who is bullied because of his stutter. His younger brother has disappeared near the street’s gutter during a heavy rainstorm. As other kids begin to disappear, Bill suspects that it is related to his brother’s incident and decides to spend his summer looking for him and the other victims.

Eddie Kaspbrak, Stan Uris, and Richie Tozier — better known as “the hypochondriac”, “the Jewish kid,” and “the trashtalker” by the bullies — are the first few outcasts to agree to the exploration. Along the way, other outcasts bullied by Henry Bower and his friends’ obscene methods are rescued by the growing group of losers. Ben Hanscom, the overweight new kid; Mike Hanlon, a boy persecuted because of his race; Beverly Marsh, a girl who is the subject of many dirty rumours, all join the Loser’s Club and face their real fears as well as the monstrous fears conjured by the evil shapeshifting clown, to uncover the mystery of the town.

Almost everyone has been anticipating “It” since the trailer was first released on July 21, 2017. “It” even gained 197 million views in just the first 24 hours, according to Variety, breaking records in the history of trailer popularity. It is clear as to why the new movie is exciting to many. It is arguably one of Stephen King’s most notable books, revolutionizing the horror genre. But with its 1,138 pages, not everyone was able to appreciate it. Whether it was the lack of reading time available or some people’s apprehension toward reading, there were a lot who missed out on the book. Therefore, if this movie is a success, his story could be enjoyed by all the people who wanted to enjoy it.

Besides having the same name as the famous book’s title, the movie also has a new cast that are another reason for the degree of high hopes. One of the most notable names is Finn Wolfhard, one of the starring roles in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Because of this, many were not worried about his ability to give a stellar performance as one of the movie’s main kids, Richie Tozier. The fans’ intrigue was instead directed more toward Bill Skarsgård, the man who was given the part of the the infamous clown known as Pennywise. People did not even have to wait for the trailer to be released before many concluded that the actor would have some abnormally large clown shoes to fill.

Pennywise already had a face to the public before Skarsgård had a chance to don his face paint and signature smile. Tim Curry made the clown iconic in the 1990’s version, but that does not mean that the movie was well-received with the people. The two-part miniseries that came out 27 years ago did not serve the book justice, in many people’s opinions. It had a 57 percent in reviews on “Rotten Tomatoes.” Since people were eager for the improvement, people waited with baited breath for the new release of “It.”

Was the movie worth all of the hype?

Yes. Reviewers adored almost every aspect of the movie: the comedy, the complexity with which the characters were portrayed, and the care it took when addressing the sensitive topics in the book. Which is why the new “It” has an 85 percent favorability rating on Rotten Tomatoes. John Hanlon writes that “this wonderfully dark story offers a mix of solid laughs and great scares and really brings this Stephen King novel to life,” and Courtney Howard writes that it “perfectly captures the frights of the novel whilst adding new fears (and causing some tears).” Howard continues, saying that “this bone-chilling masterwork is the horror book’s pages sprung to life.”

While there are noticeable differences between the book and the movie, particularly the removal of a few graphic scenes and the changes in certain details, the movie is still an adaptation that doesn’t stray too far from the original material. This adaptation stays to true to the author’s message, allowing the movie and book to thrive together rather than contradict each other.

The raunchy humor and the immature bickering the child actors deliver reminds the audience that the main characters are still just teenagers, contrasting the heavy feelings they have during the more dramatic and intense points of the movie. The range of emotions allow the characters to become more real, even when they are dealing with a shapeshifting clown that eats children almost every three decades. The characters deal with their own demons as well as the literal demon they’re after.

Stephen King even praised the movie and how it “sticks close to the book” in an interview with the Associated Press (“AP Exclusive: Stephen King talks ‘It’ and other adaptations,” Sept. 6, 2017). He added that “the nice thing about It as a movie is that as a horror movie, it works. But one of the reasons it works — the only reason that this kind of story ever works — is that you care for the people that are involved.”

And he’s right about that. His characters are complex, not the flat characters that are written to simply be killed using several different methods. With these characters, their struggles are shared with the viewer. They are misfits who have to deal with manipulating parents and violent bullies. They have insecurities and fears they mask with jokes. They are kids. “You don’t want to see any of them die!” King continues. “You want to see them survive.”