‘It‘ – a highly anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, is set to dominate the box office.
Children’s horror is a difficult sub-genre. The idea of deriving entertainment from viewing the abuse of the youngest members of our society is wrong in the extreme and not many authors or film directors dare to go there. In Steven King’s case, it’s not about the entertainment, it is about the journey to what lies beneath the fears and violence. And the entertaining part of the story is the reason why ‘IT’ still retains the power to shock.
The lead characters are a group of kids on the verge of adulthood. The story is a collection of fears and vulnerabilities of childhood: irrational fears of clowns and objects such as paintings, fears of social failure, sex and more.
In some ways this is a tale of what we should and should not be afraid of and that we often follow the wrong path, being afraid of many pathetic things, but not of the real life threats. The kids are being bullied by a psychopath called Henry, though it seems they are much more scared by the evil clown than a real kid who can torture and actually kill them. Or maybe the film just interestingly shows us that non-supernatural violence and abuse is normalised in our society – so a demonic clown is just something else to worry about.
‘It’ is also a story of real life trauma (Bill is looking for his little brother Georgie who is missing, Beverly trying to battle her psychopath father who constantly abuses her) and the way children deal with it.
There is an unsettling feeling that without the ‘Stranger Things‘ show, the new 80s vibe ‘IT’ would not have achieved so much buzz and critical acclaim. In some ways, the viewer was prepared for this film by the tv-show. The casting of Finn Wolfhard, who played Mike Wheeler in ‘Stranger Things’, as Richie Tozier may be a coincidence, but it’s not the only similarity between the two films. It’s not surprising that the film’s timeline was actually moved from the 50s to the 80s. This was probably expected, given that the Duffer bothers created ‘Stranger Things’ after they were turned down by Warner Bros to direct ‘IT’.
Bill Skarsgård, the Swedish actor, and brother of Alexander Skarsgårds, is a revelation. Watching the film I could not stop seeing similarities with Ledger’s Joker, though Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise is different and terrifying. He has a phenomenal ability to go from quiet menace to completely psycho attack mode in a split second. There is also a twisted connection between the clown and his victims that feels horribly real.