‘IT,’ or King’s way of creating and solidifying our fear of clowns

The 2017 remake of ‘IT’ scratches horror itch for viewers


Brooke Palmer | Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Pennywise the dancing clown from the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s classic novel, “IT.”

MORGAN LESTER, Evergreen columnist

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with this review that I will take the time to tell you that Stephen King is one evil bastard. Why? Because of what the monster in “IT” is, and this book being the reason why I will kill a clown and sanctify its corpse to ensure that I can sleep soundly at night. There may or may not have been a night where I slammed the book shut, threw it out my dorm window, retrieved it and put it in a timeout in the community freezer.

This novel centers around the story of the Losers’ Club – Mike, Richie the Trashmouth, Beverly, Stuttering Bill, Ben, Eddie, and Stan – when, in 1958, they fight It as children. It is a senseless, shapeshifting monster that feeds on the fear of children and adults alike. The novel follows these seven kids as they track and then attempt to defeat the monster in the sewers beneath the town of Derry. They then return as adults 27 years later, after It returns and goes on another murder spree.

It should go without saying, but Stephen King is a master storyteller and horror writer. “IT” is an incredibly compelling story, and is rich in its background lore, character development and plot. He develops the story very well as he jumps from the kids and their first battle with It, to the group as adults, as they recall their hunt and eventually return to Derry to finish the job.

King does this through the interludes between each of the five parts of the novel, coming from a book written by Mike, who has been investigating the creature in the interim between their childhoods and their return as adults.

Furthermore, King has a developed writing style that provides immersive imagery, which you may or may not want as you proceed through the novel. He also has his fair share of one-liners, like in “Part One,” when he describes the tightness of a homosexual gentleman’s satin pants by saying they were so tight that you could “read the wrinkles in his cock.”

However, there are some detractors to the novel. First, the novel’s sheer length. While it may vary from version to version, the novel is no less than 1,400 pages in length; and the first 200 are dedicated exclusively to the exposition for the adult side of things. Second, the novel’s connections to other novels in King’s lore, the more mystic parts of what It is, and references to the divine figure of Maturin the Turtle make some of the plot hard to follow. There is certainly a larger theme of good and evil here in all of King’s books, which are touched on in “IT.”

Now, onto the second part of this review: “IT” as it came out in cinemas this past Friday.

The movie was very true to the source material, within reason. Plot-wise, a few major pieces were edited out, primarily the child orgy scene, where all the members of the Losers’ Club engage in sexual activities with each other as part of the process by which they must fight It. The other large part that was edited out was the material relating to the Ritual of the Chüd and the Turtle.

However, in my mind, these do not take away from the overall quality of the film, as these are difficult to explain in a three-hour movie, while simultaneously handling a better part of a thousand pages of content. While this also has an important effect on the ending, the blood pact that the Losers’ Club makes remains. Beyond these two parts, the background lore of Derry remains intact, though condensed, to make room for the major plot lines and character development.

Overall, I appreciate this movie, and how they are portraying the novel, as they have decided to do the decent thing and split the book into two movies; that structure plays beautifully off the structure of the novel, as the next movie will most likely follow the adults as they return to Derry to have their final battle.

Finally, the special effects were high quality. Not only was the CGI clean, but the use of good camera work to achieve a more demonic effect with the scenes involving the creature. This paired well with the wonderful acting of Bill Skarsgard, who truly made Pennywise the Dancing Clown (It’s most popular form) a fearful force. The actors who played the kids also did a stellar job. I enjoyed the way they teased and taunted each other, and the kind of “Stranger Things”-with-cursing vibe they took on. There was plenty to enjoy as I watched the film, and I cannot wait for “IT: Chapter Two.”

Now for the TLDR: “IT” by Stephen King was an awesome, though incredibly long, novel that translated well into its recent adaptation onto the silver screen. I encourage you to take the time to read, or listen to, the novel, and see the movie with your friends. Have fun getting spooked.

Morgan Lester is a freshman architectural studies major from Leavenworth, Kansas. He can be contacted at [email protected].