Released September 8
A classic Stephen King horror story set in a quaint and peaceful New England town is the foundation for the movie It directed by Andres Muschetti. This film is not your average horror story however. I say that I not was truly terrified watching It. Last year’s Lights Out, which played on the simple universal theme of fear of darkness, had more shock value. The fears personified in It take on a variety of faces depending on the background of the character experiencing the dread, so the fear factor becomes a bit sporadic depending on how much each “face” of evil scares you. The film probably will uncover some deep-seated fears in the minds of the audience, and at the same time the story rises to a different level. This is not really a scary movie – it’s more of a modern day morality play about our fears about growing up and having the courage to confront them.
Argentinian Director Muschetti’s only previous feature was the well-received supernatural horror film Mama (2013). Here he has done well in creating a balance between the complexity of King’s novel and the striking visuals and sets that his team was able to create. Several screenwriters were involved with the production since development began in 2009, perhaps causing a bit of a choppy quality to the story. Some concepts seem as if they could have been more fleshed out – such as sketchy details on the dark history of the old town, which gives birth to an evil force – a force that then becomes a shape-shifter. The style of the film feels like a 1980’s classic – that is, until “the walking dead” are released – I found zombies to be a distracting anachronism and probably no longer as scary as they once were, due to some serious zombie overpopulation in the media these days.
Do consider the film worth your time however! The acting by the young team of stars is what makes this movie great. These kids prevail in creating a riveting, entertaining story in spite of any narrative flaws. They have built a natural camaraderie and genuine complex presentation of their characters, characters that reflect real kids who probably inhabited our classrooms. Jaeden Lieberher has already proven himself a fine actor in St. Vincent and Book of Henry. He leads the group as “Bill.” Sophia Lillis plays the one girl in the group, “Beverly.” Lillis, at 15, is just beginning her career, and has no major credits yet. She grew up watching many old and foreign movies thanks to her stepfather and the effect of the skills she absorbed watching the performances in these films informs her acting. She has an uncanny adult level grasp of emotions. The other kids are all fun to watch – each has created a unique persona.
Themes that flow through this movie are fear, real and perceived, and conquering it – fear of isolation, fear of loss, grief, anguish, even fear of physically growing up. These terrors are countered by the young group’s courage, independent thinking, logic, research, friendship and love. The bottom-line lesson of the movie is directed toward watchers of all ages: do not cower in the face of fear – ACT! This is a lesson we should heed on many levels.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. firstname.lastname@example.org. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com