If you don’t like horror movies, look away now! Also, beware of spoilers. Lurk below at your own risk.
I am not a horror person whatsoever. Not even a little crumb of a horror flick person, but I LOVED the new take on IT, a film based off of the novel that scared thousands by Stephen King.
So if you don’t know, IT is about this demon creature that’s from another dimension that landed here on Earth years and years ago. IT feeds on humans, mainly children because they’re easier to scare. For IT, the more scared a person is, the more tasty he/she is. Which explains why IT, also known as Pennywise, is usually decked out in circus clothes, creepy face paint, and attention-grabbing colored hair. He knows clowns are what generally freak people out, especially when it comes to scarin the little ones.
Pennywise (IT) is an evil child predator who will tear a kid to pieces while mentally torturing them because scaring humans is like seasoning them with salt and pepper. He is the worst kind of evil scary villain, especially when you’re a kid and your parents are watching IT on the tv and you see a child’s arm get eaten off. (I’m side eying my parents for scarring me for life when they decided to watch the original miniseries on tv forcing my eyes to see Tim Curry as the terrifying Pennywise).
Long story short, Pennywise is terrible and I can’t wait for his demise. However, what I loved about the 2017 version of IT was the shift of focus from Pennywise to the group of kids who find each other and take solace in one another while all this traumatic clown business is going on.
Let me tell you somethin’, these kids are badasses. I truly mean that. Not only do they face off with Pennywise but they all have their own demons and fears that they slowly come to terms with throughout the film.
What makes our characters float?:
Let’s start with Billy. My heart absolutely got punched over and over again every single time Billy was on screen. As an older sister, I cannot imagine what this kid was going through. He was desperately gripping onto the hope that his little brother, Georgie, was still alive even though that hope was covered in spikes. I can’t bring myself to even wonder what that’s like. To deep down know that a loved one is gone yet still clinging onto a hope that isn’t healing. Hope usually helps us get through our toughest moments, but for Billy, that hope hurt like hell because he knew in the end, his brother was not going to come home. He would never be able to build another sailboat for him again. So, I guess that’s not really hope. That’s just desperate disillusionment.
There’s one point in the movie where Billy recreates the sewage system and shows his dad where his brother may have ended up. On the wall, maps of the town’s sewage system are hung up with marks that Billy made, which shows the obsession he has towards finding his younger brother. His father gets angry and yells at him to let it go. He yells that his brother is dead, he’s not missing, he’s dead. Before storming out he angrily tells Billy to take everything down before his mother sees. I really have to applaud Jaeden Lieberher here, his face, his eyes, everything was so gut wrenching to watch. His heart visibly broke in this scene.
And, that is Billy’s fear. Losing his beloved brother forever. Not being able to protect him. To talk to him. To hug or see him, ever again. That is his fear. Which is what Pennywise uses to try and lure Billy into the sewer. Billy will hear his little brothers laugh and sometimes he will catch glimpses of Georgie running across the hall. There are some points in the film where Pennywise will act as Georgie and talk to Billy which is incredibly evil. Pennywise uses Georgie’s dead body, Billy’s worst fear, to haunt Billy.
Next, let’s take a look at Beverly. As a girl, her fear (that Pennywise evilly extorts) is womanhood. At the beginning of the movie Bev has long, beautiful hair. She’s called a ‘slut’ by her fellow classmates and at one point gets locked into a bathroom while other girls throw trash on her. I know, this could have easily fallen into the ‘pretty girl gets bullied because the other girls are jealous’ trope but it doesn’t. Bev doesn’t fit in because people can be assholes sometimes and the kids at her school happen to focus all that meanness on her (and her fellow members of the losers club).
One day, she goes to the store to buy some tampons. The film accentuates that this is her first time buying tampons which means this is all new to her. When she gets home, her father finds out what she buys and creepily starts saying she’s still his little girl. His hand lingers on her hair as he tells her how beautiful she is.
Immediately, a shaken Beverly runs to the bathroom where she then cuts off all of her hair. It’s evident that Bev is terrified of her father even more now that she is a “woman.” In the scenes following, IT terrorizes Bev by showering her with blood. During one scene, Bev turns on the sink faucet and blood spills out, covering her and the entire bathroom. She screams, terrified, and when her father walks in to see what’s going on, she’s surprised to learn that her father can’t see anything. Only she can.
That’s when her, along with the other members of the Losers Club, find out that only they can see IT. The adults can’t see IT.
Throughout the remainder of the film more scenes of Bev and her dad occur that are truly disturbing to witness. Her father becomes more aggressive and at one point, physically tries to assault her. It is no wonder that Bev is terrified of womanhood, to her, it signifies pain and abuse.
Now, let’s talk about Mike. Mike Hanlon is shown to be the outsider of the group, not because he chooses to be, but because he is physically the outsider. He’s black, in a predominately white town. Constantly, Henry Bowers and his sadistic gang of bullies are telling Mike to get out of their town. It’s only hinted at in the film, but in the books, Mike’s family is killed in a fire that a local gang of racists started. They are trapped inside and in the film, Mike relays to the Losers Club that his parents tried to get to him but ultimately weren’t able to reach him before they succumbed to the fire. Mike says he could hear their screams, hear them yelling for him but they never made it to him.
Throughout the film, IT recreated this terrifying and tragic moment for Mike. Constantly arms are reaching towards Mike and at one point, while Mike is being terrorized by Henry Bowers and his group of sadists, IT can be seen eating one of those limbs in the weeds, smiling at Mike.
Now, I would like to point out an interesting scene that happens at the beginning of the film. This is just me overanalyzing but I couldn’t help but remember what Mike’s grandfather told him at the beginning of the film. While working on a farm, Mike is given the task to kill a goat. He hesitates for a few moments before his grandfather takes the gun from him and shoots the goat himself. He berates Mike for not being tough enough to kill the goat, telling him something along the lines of if Mike isn’t the one shooting and doing the killing, then he will be the one other people shoot and kill. He tells Mike that he shouldn’t have any fears because fear will get him killed. This makes me think that Mike’s grandfather may be aware of the evil lurking in Derry. Not just the racism, homophobia, or sadistic bullies but Pennywise himself.
IT lurks on a person’s fears, amplifies them, and feeds on the suffering. Mike’s grandfather could have just been referring to the racists killers in town but he could have also been warning Mike about IT. If he wants to live, he needs to be unafraid.
Next up is Ben. Ben is the kid that gets bullied the most out of the Losers Club. He doesn’t fit in at school and since he doesn’t have any friends, he goes to the library to spend his time where he has been researching the history of the town Derry. He starts to discover small pieces of information about IT and how IT has been slowly feeding off of Derry and its’ misery over the past decades. The rampant evils of racism, homophobia, sexual assaults, murders, and so forth in Derry are the perfect feeding ground for IT. He amplifies each evil causing any kid growing up in Derry to be filled with suffering and terror.
While getting cornered by Bowers’ gang, Ben sees a car drive by. He screams for help as Henry Bowers starts to carve into Ben’s stomach with a pocket knife. The car keeps driving by but in the backseat a red balloon drifts in the air. As many fans already know, the red balloon signifies IT. If there is a red balloon there is a Pennywise nearby. When there is suffering, there is IT.
It’s thanks to Ben that the rest of the Loser’s Club finally come face to face with IT. They discover the clown that has been terrorizing them for days and are left with no choice but to confront IT and try to kill IT.
Which brings me to the next member of the Losers Club: Eddie. Eddie is the germophobe of the group. He has been locked inside a cage for most of his life by his mother. She has ingrained in him that he is a sick child and cannot do most things kids do in order to stay alive. She has him on various placebos and makes him believe that he is a fragile being. Because of this, Eddie is scared by almost anything. Germs and greywater are just two of his main fears.
Towards the end of the film Eddie finds out that his mother has been fooling him. His medicine is not real, thus making his fears unreal. This ends up saving his life in the final confrontation with IT. He’s no longer afraid of IT, even after being sprayed with Greywater by Pennywise, and he takes arms against IT and helps to defeat him in order to save Billy.
I also have another theory regarding an adult in Derry. Eddie’s mother seems to know a little more about the town of Derry than most other adults. Sure, she can just be a crazy lady who’s terrified of everything and shelters herself and her kid because of that or maybe she’s faced IT herself. When Eddie takes off to confront IT one last time with the Losers Club, his mother yells and begs him not to go. To not do that to her. It seems as though she knows exactly where her son is going and she is terrified. Maybe that’s why she’s such a loose cannon who’s scared to step outside of the house. Maybe she’s a survivor of IT. Just a theory.
Now, onto the last two members of the Losers Club – Stanley and Richie. Let’s start with Stanley. Stanley is also a germaphobe and seems to be one of the more level headed members of the Losers Club. He’s the son of the local Rabbi and doesn’t seem to be that interested in the teachings of his religion. He is scolded by his father for not being the outstanding Jewish son his father wants him to be. In his father’s office, there is a painting on the wall that IT uses to terrorize Stanley.
Stanley is the only one of the Losers Club that gets seriously close to being eaten by IT after he wanders off searching for Billy. Afterwards, the Losers Club surround Stanley reassuring him that they love him and that they didn’t leave him. I think that one of Stanley’s fears is being left behind. His father looks down on him, making him feel like an outcast to someone who is supposed to love him unconditionally, so when he’s about to be eaten by IT, alone, it really messes with him. And SPOILER for those who haven’t seen the original miniseries or read the novel, Stanley’s encounter with IT marks him so deeply that he never recovers which ultimately leads to his death.
Richie Tozier is the comedian of the Losers Club and he’s such a delight. He was such a kickass dude that I can honestly say IT probably wouldn’t have messed with Richie if Richie wasn’t such a good friend who got involved to help Billy out.
However, Richie does have one fear: clowns. Yep, Richie’s fear is Pennywise’s favorite costume. When Richie gets locked in a room full of clowns and Pennywise chases him, Billy opens the door and saves him. Seconds later when Richie is confronted again by IT, Richie doesn’t back down because IT is about to eat his friend Eddie. He is the one that holds it down for his friends, he’s not gonna back down from anything. When Billy keeps wanting to go into dirty sewers to search for his brother, while everyone else might look at Billy like a lost cause, Richie tags along, helping his friend by being there with him. When an evil clown attacks his friends, he hits that clown with a bat. Richie is the friend we all need.
The Losers Club was made up of kids who were outcasted, thrown aside, and bullied. Kids who took their trauma and turned it into strength. IT wasn’t just about a scary clown that wanted to eat children. It was about what happens when our childhood gets taken from us.
Childhood is supposed to be this beautiful time in our lives full of innocence and wonder. Yet, as a kid, when bad things happen it’s usually out of our control. We can be helpless to the bad surrounding us. Beverly had her innocence ripped away from her by her father. One of the two people we come into this world naturally loving. A father is supposed to protect us, however, what happens when that hero is turned into a monster? How do you even cope with that?
Billy is struggling with the loss of his brother and his parents aren’t there to help him through it. They are stuck in their own misery of losing one son that they’re forgetting about the son they still have and in the process, they’re losing him too. Billy is suffering alone, coming to terms with the death of a loved one alone, and that has to be the worse misery. Being alone with you need someone the most.
Mike is dealing with racism. Racism is scary for those who have ever experienced it. Knowing that the color of your skin can turn you into a target is terrifying. There’s nothing you can do about it. Racists will target you and you can’t hide from it.
Ben is dealing with the tragedy of having a childhood without friends. It’s a low feeling when everyone around you has plans to hangout with their friends during the summer and all you have is to go to the library because no one wants to hangout with you. Eddie has a insane mother who suffocates him which stifles his growth.
Stanley has a father who looks down on him making him feel unworthy. Richie, who loves his friends more than anything, has to watch helplessly as all of these terrible things happen to those he loves the most.
IT is about the kids who didn’t get to live their childhood, but had to survive it. The ones who coped with being bullied. The ones who had to build a foundation for themselves because their parents weren’t around. IT is about the strength that comes with fending for yourself. IT is about the kids who stuck together and made the Losers Club the best kind of club full of misfits who had each other’s backs.
IT was also about our fears and conquering those fears.
I’ll tell you my fear…college debt.
So, for you, what is IT? What makes you float?