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Review: It (2017)

Saw It. My brother and I often mocked the ‘90s miniseries for its more dated and watered-down elements (though Tim Curry’s performance always escaped our criticism), but this new interpretation of Stephen King’s classic novel excels by emphasizing characterization, atmosphere, and theme over shallow scares.

Indeed, some of the most terrifying scenes have little to do with the titular monster’s influence: just as “Pennywise the Dancing Clown” is merely a colorful, grinning facade worn by a voracious, otherworldly predator, the sleepy town of Derry, Maine itself is utterly rotten beneath its seemingly idyllic surface. Adults range from neglectful to outright abusive, children are capable of sickening cruelty and sadism, and most folks deliberately ignore the pure, virulent evil lurking through the streets, even when it stares them directly in the eyes.

Which only serves to make the Losers Club’s dogged determination and loyalty even more heartwarming. In a community where apathy reigns supreme, these outsiders, outcasts, and rejects refuse to abandon those in need. Pennywise may be the film’s iconic face, but the unbreakable bond between Bill, Beverly, Ben, Eddie, Richie, Stan, and Mike is undoubtedly its underlying soul, making It less a conventional slasher flick than an uplifting coming-of-age story. It is, after all, about confronting and overcoming one’s childhood fears.

And, in some cases, pummeling them into submission with baseball bats, rusty pipes, and the power of friendship.

[Originally written September 9, 2017.]

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