IT takes viewers back to their childhood roots. Even if you never lived in a small country town, and never made a club with your closest friends, you can still find a way to connect with the characters and their struggles. There’s unrequited love, adolescence, strict parents, fear for your own future just to name a few. Each member of the Losers Club comes face to face with their respective fears or reservations and find a way to overcome them. In doing so, they not only topple their foes, but form lifelong memories that they may or may not look back on fondly as adults. What Stephen King presents is a story of growth and coming of age.

The films of course have to streamline certain elements of the story and extricate the more problematic areas. In doing so, the story becomes more accessible to the viewing public. In my opinion, the films’ success are linked less to the scares and more to the personal growth of the characters. Otherwise, after learning about Pennywise’s deal as an antagonist, there’s a certain amount of impact that can be lost regarding his overall threat. There’s inconsistency in Pennywise’s behavior where we see him kill side characters almost immediately, but chooses to spend days tormenting the Losers Club before genuinely approaching them as a genuine danger.

Even if IT is frightening for anyone who has an inherent fear of clowns, monsters, the dark, lepers, and the like, what I found more engaging when watching these films was the everyday challenges. Initially, Pennywise seems ready and willing to feed on anyone who comes his way; however, the film reveals his primary motivation of stalking his prey until they are ripe enough to eat. In doing so, however, he inadvertently helps them grow strong enough to stand up to him. For me, after learning this, the scares of each scene diminished. The Losers Club, after a while, seem to spend more time around Pennywise than they do with each other and yet for a large portion of both movies Pennywise all but refuses to lay a finger on them until the climax. My focus then turned mostly away from Pennywise and toward the other conflicts. For example, Bill’s survivor’s guilt and the looming threat of Henry Bowers. To me, the scariest part about the film aside from the blood pact is the idea of a bully crazy enough to pull try and carve his own name into someone else’s stomach. I pray I never come across someone like that.

The success of the first film affects Chapter Two, leaving me with similar critiques. From my perspective as a viewer, by the end of the first film the Losers Club hand Pennywise such a severe beatdown that they shouldn’t be afraid of him ever again. Their character arcs come full circle and they are complete people, but by the start of the second movie they have mostly regressed. This is another part of life as most of us are sure to wonder what our childhood selves would think if they met our adult versions; however, for the purpose of the movie, I personally found it a bit frustrating because we spend so much time rehashing what was all but solved previously. The now grown up Losers Club knows exactly how they need to deal with Pennywise and even though things of course won’t go to plan, the ultimate conclusion is the same, except this time they use words and not fists.

1 thought on “Now Watch This: IT (2017) and IT Chapter Two

  1. Hi Always,
    I’m with you in that I thought the inconsistency of how Pennywise immediately kills most of his prey except the Losers’ Club has a bit unusual to me. To my memory, I think I remember hearing in the book he thought of the prolonged scaring of his targets as “salting the meat”/adding to the flavor, but even with knowing that additional information when it was provided in the movie, it doesn’t make sense as to why he wouldn’t have just similarly eaten the protagonists in their initial meeting with him. I could see maybe it making sense for them as adults when Pennywise already had a reason to hold a grudge against them and want to “prolong their suffering” so to speak, but otherwise it did kind of lessen the impact of his scares for me over time as well. I think limiting his appearances a bit more might have enhanced how scary the movie ultimately was. I also appreciated your observation that part of the reason the film is so popular is because it has many threads many can connect to in our own lives or about growing up.

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