"Dark Visions of American Life"
What You Need To Know:
Despite a couple plot holes, IT is a well-made, scary horror movie. The teenage actors are pretty convincing overall, and Bill Skarsgård is super-terrifying in his creepy-looking Pennywise costume, makeup and performance. However, IT contains abundant, gratuitous, obscene foul language coming from the mouths of the teenage characters. Also, its depiction of small-town America and the adults running it (including the fathers of a couple of the teenagers) is extremely dark. So, although IT’s basic theme is conquering dark, demonic forces, parents and moviegoers should consider finding another place to spend their hard-earned entertainment dollars.
(RoRo, APAP, PCPC, B, C, LLL, VVV, S, N, A, MM) Strong Romantic worldview with a dark vision of America and families that could be considered a bit politically correct, mitigated by a light moral, redemptive premise about friendship, courage, truth, and unity conquering dark, demonic forces (there are also references to Bar Mitzvah ceremony, but it doesn’t really affect the movie’s themes or messages all that much, which adds to the movie’s negative elements); about 71 obscenities spoken mostly by young teenagers (including many “f” words), three strong profanities using Jesus, two light profanities, and a couple obscene gestures; some very strong and strong scary violence includes gushes of blood come out of a bathroom sink and splatters teenage girl, blood comes out of character’s mouth, young boy’s arm torn off, evil teenager puts switchblade against father’s neck and clicks the switch and gushes of blood coming from father’s neck, evil teenager carves an X into younger teenager’s belly, it’s implied sheep are killed by pellet gun into forehead, young teenager uses pellet gun against an image of his younger brother that turns out to be the evil adult clown villain in the movie, diseased leper menaces teenage boy, but he’s a figment of imagination, teenagers throw rocks at one another and several are hit in the head by the rocks, teenage girl hits abusive father in the head with porcelain top of a toilet, and a pool of blood forms under his head as he lies on the floor dying from the hit, teenage girl kicks father in grown and head when it appears he intends to sexually assault her, ghost bodies of murdered children menace characters, villain punctured in the head with objects (including rusty steel arrows from an old fence of some kind, scary clown drags boy down into sewer with him, teenagers traipse through scary sewers, bodies of murdered children float in the air, hair comes out of bathroom sink and tries to choke teenage girl, policeman father shoots gun at teenage son’s feet after he catches him attempting to shoot a cat, etc.; sexual content include it’s implied that teenage girl’s father has sexually abused her, and it looks like in one scene he intends to do just that, boys stare at sunbathing girl wearing only her bra and panties after they swim in the local swimming hole, two scenes where teenagers kiss but not salaciously, and a couple sexual comments, including it is mentioned teenage girl is reportedly a slut but she denies it; upper male nudity and teenage girl in bra and panties at local swimming hole; implied alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, bullying, bullies call their victims “faggots” in one scene, hypochondria, mother apparently hasn’t been telling her son the truth about his asthma medicine being a placebo, teenage girl distracts pharmacist so teenage boys can steal first-aid supplies.
IT is a new filmed adaptation of the popular Stephen King novel about an alien entity who preys on the fears of children in a fictional Maine town called Derry. Every 27 years, the alien comes out of hibernation to resume his macabre hunt. Since children are his victims, he often appears to them as a scary clown calling himself Pennywise the Dancing Clown, but he can also appear as other monsters. Pennywise is also able to manipulate the minds of his prey. This ability enables him to manipulate the minds of the adults in Derry. For example, in the new movie, Pennywise aka It causes the adults to forget his past victims so that a poster of the latest missing child is simply placed over the missing poster of the previous child victims during the evil creature’s most recent murder spree.
The new movie adapts half of the original novel, which has a section set in the late 1950s showing some young teenagers in the town uniting to defeat the monster and a section showing those same characters returning to Derry 27 years later to try to destroy the monster once and for all. The new IT movie focuses on how the teenagers work together to confront Pennywise the Dancing Clown and a local bully who’s doing the evil clown’s bidding. Presumably, a sequel will show the teenagers coming back as adults to finally destroy Pennywise.
The new movie, set in the late 1980s, opens with Bill making a boat that can float for his younger brother, Georgie. Georgie wants to go out into a rainstorm and play with the boat. Outside, Georgie runs after the boat as it’s being carried down the street by the small floodwaters. Georgie bumps his head, however, and the boat disappears down a storm drain. Georgie peers down the storm drain and sees the face of a creepy-looking clown. When Georgie tells the clown he’s not supposed to talk to strangers, the clown introduces himself as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. “Georgie, meet Pennywise. Pennywise, meet Georgie. Now we’re not strangers,” the clown says. Pennywise offers to give Georgie back his boat, but when Georgie reaches his hand inside the storm drain to take it from him, Pennywise tears off Georgie’s arm and drags him down into the sewer.
Cut to a few months later. Georgie is still missing, and Bill is feeling guilty about letting his little brother go out to play alone in the rain. Strangely, a girl has gone missing too, and it seems as if the town’s all but forgotten about little Georgie. That’s not true of Bill’s three friends, Ritchie, Eddie and Stanley. All four boys are being bullied by a gang of older teenagers, led by an emotionally disturbed boy named Henry. The gang is also bullying the new youth in school, an overweight bookworm named Ben. Ben has a crush on a redhead girl in his social studies class, an outcast named Beverly. Henry’s seventh victim is an African-American teenager named Mike.
Eventually, these seven teenagers join together to fight off Henry and his gang. Soon, the teenagers realize something evil is preying upon the children in their town, and all the adults are oblivious to the danger. They also realize they’re all being haunted by images of the same clown, Pennywise, who’s able to prey on their fears as well as manipulate reality and fantasy. Ben the bookworm informs his newfound friends that his research on the town in the local library indicates that Pennywise has been haunting the town from its inception several hundred years ago.
When the seven teenagers band together to stop the evil clown from terrorizing them, Pennywise promises to kill them all one by one. They decide the only way to stop him is by keeping together. However, Pennywise has a bunch of tricks up his sleeve to separate them one by one and finish them off.
Despite a couple plot holes, IT is a very well-made, scary horror movie. The teenage actors are pretty convincing overall. Young actor Bill Skarsgård, who’s actually a rather handsome man in real life, is totally transformed and super-frightening in his creepy-looking Pennywise the Dancing Clown costume, makeup and performance. He truly delivers a tremendous performance.
The biggest drawback quality wise to the movie is the frequent foul language and crude obscenities that come out of the mouths of the teenage characters. If used at all, obscenity is better used if utilized only rarely. In fact, it’s a sign of bad writing and bad acting if the writers and actors rely so heavily on such foul language, as this movie clearly does.
Of course, excessive gratuitous foul language is also a sign of moral depravity. It’s also a sign of the kind of moral depravity that sometimes creeps into the liberal, leftist worldview infecting the work of Stephen King, including some or many of the movies adapted from his novels and short stories. Furthermore, to have this kind of constant obscenity and profanity coming from the mouths of teenagers is even worse, morally speaking.
Equally disturbing is the movie’s depiction of the major adult characters that show up in IT. For example, the movie strongly implies in several scenes that Beverly’s father has sexually abused her in the past. He keeps asking her in a smarmy way, “Are you still my little girl?” Also, the villain Henry’s father is a mean-spirited policeman. Finally, Eddie’s mother is a fat hypochondriac who’s been lying to Eddie about the asthma medicine she orders for him. This depiction, as well as the movie’s depiction of the small town and the town bullies suggests a dark vision of American life. IT also contains two scenes of patricide that are fairly disturbing.
That said, IT is also a story about friendship, courage, truth, and unity overcoming dark, demonic forces. Though this part of the movie’s narrative structure is positive, it has no really solid (much less overt) Christian, biblical foundation in the movie. The teenage heroes in IT have no such spiritual or religious foundation either, even though one of the heroic teenagers, Stanley, is turning 13 and studying for his Bar Mitzvah. In fact, Stanley seems to consider his studies more of a chore and a meaningless religious ritual rather than the path to enlightenment and maturity it’s intended to be.
All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® thinks parents and moviegoers should consider avoiding IT and find another place to spend their hard-earned entertainment dollars.