Film Review: It
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Starring Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher
1988. In the small town of Derry, Main, young children are starting to disappear or even found dead. It follows a group of seven kids as they soon discover that the killer is a clown named Pennywise. But you already knew that, given the enormous amount of attention this movie has gathered lately, and the popularity of Stephen King. IT (2017) is based on one of King’s longest and most read novels, which was also adapted into a miniseries in the 1990s.
In this movie we get to see the first chapter of the story, when the main characters are children. (For fans of the miniseries, yes there’s a sequel planned, where the children are grown ups.) Pennywise knows how to use children’s phobias against them and trick them into his snare. Do you have coulrophobia? You’re not the only one. It is so appealing that you will get lost!
In terms of cinematography, Chung-hoon Chung proved to be the right choice for this movie. You might recognize his work from other films like Stoker and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, where he did an ingenious job. IT is certainly not different from them in this aspect. The thriller components, particularly sound, are vigorously intertwined with how the film is shot. For example, the opening includes small details that are enhanced by the on & off-screen sound effects and close-ups, like paper ripping and footsteps. The sounds are almost triggering our emotions as they captures our fear and uses it against us. It is lurking behind us in the dark before it runs and flickers in the back of our minds.
The first striking element is the use of colours. The cinematography is characterised by lucid and ferocious colours that force us to watch from beginning to end. The colour red appears in almost every shot, either inconspicuously, or covering the entire screen. It is incredibly memorable with how the movie is edited; it alters the perception of time, making it feel more like a book which you read in one sitting.
Pennywise’s character has never been this imposing before; he appears often in the film but his character still remains flat—he is a creepy clown. This can be a good thing, as you could see how it can be a way of appreciating his monstrosity thoroughly. The actor, Bill Skarsgård, did an amazing job at bringing the character to life after 27 years.
What I liked about the plot is that there were more emotions explored here than in the typical horror film. You see the children’s fears distinctively expressed: their nightmares and phobias, but also their friendship bonds. That should not be taken lightly, because these kids are capable of anything. The trap that Pennywise is setting for children is in turn a trap for the viewer: it is so captivating that it feels like it’s emerging from the screen, and for a moment you might forget it’s a film.