By Bradley Griffith
The long-awaited and much-anticipated premier of “It” finally arrived. The adaptation of the Stephen King novel has been talked about seemingly for years and opened with a bang with $123 million in its opening weekend. That total is the highest opening weekend ever for a horror movie and the highest opening for the month of September for any genre.
Something sinister lives in the small town of Derry, Maine. The year is 1988 and the rate of people going missing in Derry is six times the national average, and that’s just for adults. The rate of children going missing is much higher. Everyone in Derry knows something is wrong, but no one wants to do anything to stop the evil that has taken over their small town.
Young Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) makes a paper boat for his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). Georgie’s boat is promptly washed down a sewer grate in a downpour. When Georgie looks into the sewer he sees two yellow eyes. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) has his boat. Pennywise tricks Georgie into reaching his arm into the sewer to get his boat. Georgie is never seen alive again.
Eight months later Bill and his friends Richie (Ben Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) are out of school for the summer. Richie, Eddie, and Stanley want to have fun during the summer, but Bill has other ideas. He hasn’t given up searching for his brother and he wants his friends to help him.
There’s a curfew of 7 p.m. for children in the summer. Still, all the adults in Derry refuse to even acknowledge that the town has a problem. As more and more children go missing the adults go on with life as if nothing is wrong. Bill refuses to give up on Georgie. Along with outcast Beverly (Sophia Lillis), new kid Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), and home-schooler Mike (Chosen Jacobs), they call themselves the Losers Club and they begin searching the sewers for the evil that lurks waiting for more children.
“It” is definitely a horror movie. The film checks all the boxes. There’s a maniacal demon clown, dead children luring others to their own deaths, spurting blood covering an entire room, a haunted house, and more. But, and this is kind of a big but, the movie is really not that scary. Many parts of it are creepy and there are a few parts where you may jump in your seat from a surprising moment. But most of the parts that are supposed to be scary simply aren’t.
What is good about the movie is the story it tells about a bunch of outcast kids who, despite everything stacked against them, band together to defeat the demon clown. The movie spends quite a bit of time showing the group coming together, each child with their own story and their own problems at home. The adults in Derry won’t do anything, so the ragtag collection of kids known as Losers Club must be the hero.
One aspect of the plot that “It” nails perfectly is the social groups and interactions of kids that happens only in small towns. The film is not about the popular kids or the best-looking kids, but about the kids who look out for the little guy and protect those being bullied physically or by rumors that spread quickly in small towns. The story is all about these kids and that’s what makes the movie shine.
“It” is also unexpectedly very funny. Even when they are staring evil square in the face the kids still retain their sense of humor. The boys tell jokes that almost all boys say or hear at one time or another growing up. If you grew up in the 1980s you will be transported back in time to your childhood with a smile on your face despite the fact that a murdering clown is running loose on the screen.
“It” may not be scary, but it tells a great story with great characters. And if you like this movie you’re in luck, because “It” only tells half of the story of the Losers Club versus Pennywise.
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Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and language.