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Review: “It” is a well-acted and appropriately creepy reminder of how terrifying clowns are


If we can all agree on one thing, it just might be how terrifyingly creepy clowns are. With their makeup, strange costumes and bizarre hair, they represent the perfect way to scare children and adults alike. Although most clowns are creepy, the title of creepiest clown would probably have to go to Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the antagonist in the new film “It.”

“It” is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King and tells the story of a group of children in a small town who are being terrorized by a supernatural shape-shifting clown that can prey upon his victims’ greatest fears by transforming into the thing each person is most afraid of. He mainly appears as Pennywise, but adopts plenty of other creepy personas throughout the film as well. He mainly goes after children, whom he enjoys kidnapping and eating. So, not exactly the world’s nicest clown.

The story centers on Bill Denbrough and his group of friends, known as the Losers’ Club. Bill’s little brother, Georgie, goes missing at the beginning of the film, and Bill becomes determined to find him, which eventually leads the Losers to their many encounters with Pennywise.

I am sure not all clowns are evil, but Pennywise is definitely not going to help people believe otherwise. Bill Skarsgard gives an appropriately creepy and memorable performance as Pennywise. He lures children in with the promise of peanuts and popcorn from the circus, then proceeds to use his disturbing, otherworldly teeth to eat them for dinner. He appears to each of the Losers as their greatest fear throughout the movie. Eventually, the Losers discover where Pennywise lives and decide to pay him a visit and hopefully discover what happened to Georgie in the process.

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The movie does a great job of capturing the essence of childhood through the Losers. “It” works as both a creepy horror film and a coming-of-age flick, thanks to the focus on the young characters dealing with issues of growing up and also the issue of having a child-eating, centuries-old clown trying to kill you. You know, normal elements of childhood.

All of the Losers give great performances, which really help bring the story to life, and the film captures the youthful banter of childhood that only the best movies can. If you look beyond the horrors of Pennywise, the movie is about a boy trying to find his lost little brother. That is the emotional core that drives the film, and the result is a movie full of horrific clown killings that’s also full of heart.

“It” should satisfy horror movie fans, as well as Stephen King fans and moviegoers who enjoy coming-of-age movies. It may be about kids, but still, leave the little kids at home when you take a trip to the theater to see this one.

The only time that King’s novel has found its way to the screen was with an “It” TV miniseries in 1990, so with this new remake, director Andy Muschietti appropriately updates both Pennywise and the Losers’ Club for the 21st century, inspiring a whole new generation of people to be terrified of clowns, if they were not already.

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In today’s market full of average-at-best horror movies, it takes something extra to stand out among the rest, but “It” finds a way to do so. The movie starts out with an opening scene so gruesome and horrifying that it will most certainly shock almost every viewer, letting them know what they are getting themselves into. However, this is the most gruesome part of the film, so if you can make it about 10 minutes in, then you should be fine for the rest of its 135-minute runtime. “It” is probably one of the best horror movies to come out in quite some time, so horror fans should really be jumping for joy.

In a world full of scary movies about haunted houses and possessed dolls, we needed a reminder of how much we all hate clowns, and “It” will most certainly give us that reminder, even if we have to sleep with the lights on for a few nights after seeing it.

Grade: A

Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter

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