We All Float Down Here: Horrorfest- IT Chapter 1

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We All Float Down Here: Horrorfest- IT Chapter 1

Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the movie IT will go down in history as one of the most iconic figures of horror ever written.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the movie IT will go down in history as one of the most iconic figures of horror ever written.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the movie IT will go down in history as one of the most iconic figures of horror ever written.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the movie IT will go down in history as one of the most iconic figures of horror ever written.

Ella Arnold, Editor

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Warning: Mature themes and slightly graphic images.

If you’ve never worried about a spectral clown with rows of razor sharp teeth coming to eat your fear in the darkest corners of your psyche, then you certainly will after watching Andres Muchetti’s adaptation of IT, based off of Stephen King’s 1985 novel.

The movie, released in 2017, was a remake of the original miniseries under the same name that was released in 1990. However, the movie strays significantly far from the plot of the book and mini-series.

In King’s initial plot of IT, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a spectral monster that feeds off the fear of young children in the town of Derry. Pennywise is able to transform himself into the very objects of the children’s fear, which is essentially how he is able to harness their fright. 

The story is set in the 1950s, with the children’s fears manifesting as classic horror monsters such as mummies, Dracula, werewolves, and Frankenstein. 

In an interview with Variety before the movie was released, Andres Muschietti, the director of the film, commented on how he would be taking the fears a bit further. Muschietti has worked on horror films in the past, such as Mama (2013), but completely flipped the tables when it came to representing fear in IT. 

“I had a different approach. I wanted to bring out deeper fears, based not only on movie monsters but on childhood traumas,” the visionary director said. 

Muschietti’s vision definitely shines through in the film. The characters looking to stop Pennywise from wreaking havoc on the town of Derry, known as the Losers Club, deal with far more universal, existential fears. For example, Pennywise, played by Bill Skårsgard, turns up as Georgie, the little brother of one of the members of the Losers Club who was murdered by Pennywise. Georgie represents the fear of death, the fear of loss, and the fear of having to say goodbye, all in one dreadful package. 

In regards to my ranking scale, IT scores a strong 71/80* overall.


Color Scheme

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
The brightness of Pennywise’s balloon is electric against the dull backdrop of the Derry Library.

For Color Scheme, I gave IT an 8. Set in a small town, the movie sticks to subdued, grayish colors, allowing the stark red of Pennywise’s balloon and the bright yellow of Georgie’s raincoat to serve as noticable, consistent symbols. 


Costuming

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Bill Skarsgard shines as Pennywise in the film, thanks to his haunting costuming.

Costuming scored a 9. Due to the fact that the movie takes place in the late 80s, the characters are appropriately costumed in the clothes of 80s teenagers, setting a consistent timeline for the film. Again, Georgie’s coat is used symbolically, cementing the importance of costuming in IT. Perhaps the most beautiful example of costuming, however, is Pennywise’s clown costume. It is a perfect–and highly unnerving–mockery of carnival clowns, and its eye catching white pops against the dark of the sewers and corners of scenes.


Special Effects

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Special effects added an extra frightful flair to the film, especially with the zombie-esque leper that terrorized the Losers Club.

Special Effects earned a well-deserved 10 in the ranking process. Pennywise, along with his various mutant forms, appears so lifelike that you would expect them to lurk in the shadows of your own home, generating a long-lasting fear factor for the movie. The hyper-reality of these monsters contrasts the doldrum of the town of Derry, rendering them extremely frightening. 


Gore

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
After Beverly Marsh, one of the members of the Losers Club, looks down the drain of her sink, the bathroom explodes into a horrifying bloodbath–a fantastic example of gore in the movie.

Gore earned the lowest score of any of the categories, coming in at a 6. Gore, though it was an aspect of IT, didn’t necessarily contribute to how “scary” the movie itself was. The most gruesome scene was one in which a bathroom was spattered with the blood of children, but beyond that, there weren’t many other notable instances of gore. 


Date and Time Period

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Set in the 1980s, IT looks into the lives of teenagers nearly 30 years ago.

Contributing another 10 to the 71/80 ranking, Date and Time Period are vital aspects of IT. Instead of being set in the 1950s like King’s original novel, the movie is in the late 80s, as previously noted. After the popularity of Stranger Things, also set in the 80s, the decade became increasingly popular in horror film and media culture. This played to the benefit of IT, making it more interesting to both teens fascinated with the decade and with their parents, who were most likely the same age as the kids in the Losers Club in the 80s. 


Soundtrack

Photo Credits: Anthrax.com
Many classic 80s rock hits made it into IT, such as the song “Antisocial” by Anthrax.

The music of the film was time-period relevant, catchy, and remotely eerie, earning Soundtrack a solid 9. Songwriter Benjamin Wallfish composed many of the movie’s background tracks, but IT is also studded with hits by bands such as Anthrax and The Cure. 


The Monster

Pennywise the Dancing Clown dwells in the gutters, hoping to lure in children and feast upon their fears.

“The Monster” was the most frightening element of the movie overall, and is ranked as a 10.  The monster, technically classified as the ever-present, sewer dwelling Pennywise, is actually much greater than simply the character of Pennywise. The monster remains undefined–all that is known by the Losers Club is that IT is something that feeds off of the fears of young children and can only be kept at bay by courage, and it returns to Derry every 27 years. IT’s unpredictability–and the fact that it cannot be defeated–creates a monster that transcends the classic figures of Halloween and reaches into the psyche. 


Suspense Factor

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Pennywise and the fear of what will happen next is constantly in the back of your mind as a viewer of IT, which allows you to relate to the kids of the Losers Club.

Suspense Factor, the final category, scored a high 9. More than suspense, dread seems to be the creeping mood of the film. It almost feels as if you’re walking into a dark basement to meet Pennywise yourself, with the pressing worry and darkness of what’s to come constantly weighing on your mind. 

 


IT is one of the most frightening films of all time, due in majority to its use of archetypical, mature fears that almost anyone can relate to, as well as the simple aspect of fantastic cinematography. Its 71/80 ranking is definitely earned, thanks to these qualities. 

IT: Chapter 2 came out in September 2019, and looks at the adult lives of members of the Losers Club, as they deal with the return of IT along with the obligations and new fears of adulthood. The fact that a sequel was made so quickly as an answer to high popularity demands establishes IT as an iconic horror film. 

Though the movie sounds like a slightly-scarier version of Stranger Things, don’t underestimate the impact of growing tension, psychotic carnival clowns, and the unabashed, stupid fearlessness of teenagers. If you still think that there’s no possible way you could be scared of something as simple as a dancing clown, just remember what Pennywise so cryptically said to Georgie–we ALL float down here. 

 


*In case you need a refresher, each movie is rated in 8 categories–Color Scheme, Costuming, Special Effects, Gore, Date & Time Period, Soundtrack, “The Monster” and Suspense Factor. These scores, which are out of 10, are added together to create an overall ranking, the highest being 80.