Written by Supreedha Iyer & Kwong Hui
Edited by Raeesah Hayatudin
“You’ll float too.”
IT is not like any ordinary horror movie, because the last time I watched a horror movie, I definitely didn’t laugh till I cried, yet still feel utterly terrified. Andres Muschietti, the director of IT, broke the mould of how horror movies are presented. Often, horror movies leave the audience petrified, with their heartbeats drumming frantically in their chests. IT is a well-crafted movie, balanced with haunted house-type horror and 21st century humor that brings to light the mysteries of the Derry town.
I was initially reluctant to watch IT (since I would probably have nightmares about it), but now, I’m truly glad that I did not miss out this opportunity to watch such a marvellous movie! Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the film was set in 1989 in the town of Derry, Maine, where the main protagonists are a group of seven teenagers on summer break who are often victims of bullying. They called themselves the ‘Loser Club’, with their members being the fat kid, the Jewish kid, the kid who stutters (a.k.a. Georgie’s elder brother), the black kid, the smart mouth with a dirty sense of humor, and a girl named Beverly. It begins with the disappearance of Georgie, a small boy who gruesomely vanishes down a storm drain after going outside in the rain to play with his paper boat.
As the Loser Club looks for Georgie, they uncover the mysteries of the town. Derry has a missing-persons rate which is much higher than the average town’s, with underground sewer tracks that lead to the Neibolt house, where the shape-shifting devil IT emerges every 27 years. This devil, often taking the role of a bloodthirsty clown named Pennywise, feeds on the town’s children. IT conjures up a fearful situation tailored to each victim’s deepest fears. Thus, in order to take down Pennywise, the children of the Loser Club must face their biggest fears. These include several frightening situations such as an abandoned house, a painting that comes to life and a bathroom sink that is possessed.
The fact that this group of seven young children faced their fears reminds us that fear is nothing more than an obstacle in life that we have to face in order for us to grow. Richie’s (one of the seven kids) sarcastic humor alleviates the seriousness of the situation as it adds lightness and a comedic element to the movie. It indicates that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously no matter how deep it can get, because in the end everything will be alright. Nowadays, we tend to get too caught up in a moment; our happiness is conditional on receiving what we want, and we fail to appreciate what we have. IT serves as an important reminder that when we face our fear, ready to punch it in the face, that is when we are truly living life to its fullest.
Teamwork is also one of the major themes of this movie. In one scene, at the Neibolt house, the kids were reluctant to enter it, but then they realised they could not do it alone. Ultimately, they succeeded at killing IT as a result of their teamwork and trust in each other. Hence, it reinforces that we are not alone when facing our fears, and that we are able to conquer it by working together as a team.
Other than that, I believe what really impacted the audience was not only the visuals, but also the sound effects. In fact, I had to cover my ears during the movie for some parts because of the terrifying, stomach-churning horror I felt! Also, the phrase “You’ll float too”, as I mentioned earlier, was repeated over and over again in a young boy’s high-pitched, innocent-like voice, with the occasional eerie chuckle which inspired terror in the audience. I think the scariest of all was Pennywise’s whispering voice; it was that kind of voice that scared us all as kids, and all we’d wanna do was run to Mummy’s safe arms. Pennywise was voiced by the talented Tim Curry. Simply brilliant!
Moreover, I believe the way IT was marketed movie was extremely effective. The poster’s bright red balloon was shorthand for terror, and the young kid’s yellow raincoat was prominent against the grey-black background. All the audience needed to see was the ghostly image of Pennywise the Clown to be caught and for them to feel interested in watching the movie. Additionally, the use of the phrase “You’ll float too” throughout the trailer is effective because it is simple and short. The audience has yet to understand what the phrase means (until the kids go underground to see all the dead people floating in air) and thus, this enables them to relate to the situation and understand the movie as a whole.
In conclusion, the way that Pennywise the Clown doesn’t just feed on fear, but rather curates it by mimicking a situation that they fear, is what brings a whole new element of horror into IT. Now, go conquer your fear of horror movies and watch IT!