Media Minute: Stephen King’s “It”

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Kicking off the fall semester, students raved about the latest horror film— “It” by Stephen King.

Go see it. By it, I mean “It.” 

Had I shown up a few minutes later, I wouldn’t have been able to review this movie at all. There was a line of moviegoers clamoring to see the latest Stephen King book-to-film adaptation stretched out the door of Big Rapids’ AMC movie theater on Saturday night. 

“It” has blown away previous box office records for an R-rated horror movie opening weekend by amassing $117 million in the United States alone. That nearly doubles the previous record holder for the same genre, “Paranormal Activity 3,” which saw a $52 million opening weekend. 

The fun of “It” is driven by seven kids, dubbed the “losers,” hunting down the murderous clown monster. Could they have told their parents? Sure. Might the local police have liked to know about the pile of floating bodies they find in the sewer? Definitely. But that’s not what the movie is about. 

It’s about this group of kids getting into trouble and learning independence during summer vacation. The creepiness is just a secondary element. In terms of King’s other work, it’s a lot closer to “Stand By Me” than “Cujo” in that way. 

The few times adults are shown in the film, they’re almost as predatory as the child-eating clown monster. Between the homes of the families we’re exposed to in Derry, Maine, we see a heavy dose of physical, mental and sexual abuse towards the children. 

No wonder they don’t turn to adults for help when their nightmares are coming to life. 

The losers are fun to follow through the 1980s backdrop. It’s a nostalgic look into the past that feels similar to “Stranger Things” and the movie even casts Finn Wolfhard, who played Mike Wheeler in the acclaimed Netflix series. 

There are a few too many dirty joke wisecracks in the movie for my liking but those who enjoyed that element of “Deadpool” should appreciate the excessive ‘your mom’ jokes in this movie. 

The character development is what makes the movie memorable but the clown is what’s selling tickets. The legendary Tim Curry as Pennywise was going to be tough to follow up in the modernized version of “It,” but advancements in CGI and an expanded versatility for the shape-shifting monster does a good job at it. Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise may not be as charming a dancing clown but the many faces he adopts are creepier. 

Overall, “It” is a great kickoff to a slate of fall horror releases that I’m very much looking forward to. I give the film four floating red balloons out of five and will definitely be recommending it to my mother, who is terrified of clowns. 

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