With over $125 million grossed in its debut weekend, the film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror novel “It” entertained and terrified movie goers across the world. Clowns are creepy no matter what though, right? So what makes Pennywise your worst nightmare?
Bill Skarsgard, the Swedish actor portraying It puts on a deeply unsettling performance. He does not seem to be laboring to frighten anyone, and his coy demeanor makes the sudden bursts of insane hostility makes it that much more shocking. Better yet, Director Andy Muschietti does an incredible job of incorporating unexpected, cynical humor into the film.
Whether it’s a quick, inappropriate exchange between the leading teen actors or Pennywise dancing the night away in front of a curtain of flames. Perhaps more terrifying than Pennywise himself are the experiences of the children in the film’s so called “Loser’s Club” who faced a bathroom sink with a vengeance, crawling through sewage pipes, shape shifting monsters, and broken limbs. What makes their experiences so much more terrifying is the comprehensive backstory sprinkled throughout the film.
We know the main group of boys are tormented by the school bully, Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff), and are drawn together by their alienation from other groups. Similarly, Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) is haunted by a rumor about her promiscuousness, which seems even more ridiculous after you meet the abusive father she has to come home to.
Pennywise exploits their weaknesses and uses devious, supernatural abilities that, if successful, lead children to their doom. Despite the plethora of terrifying moments, it is difficult to know whether the appropriate response to a scene is to admire the camaraderie between friends or scream at the top of your lungs.
An underlying theme from the film is if you want your fear to go away, you have to confront it.