What happens when we confront our greatest fears? Director Andy Muschietti seeks to answer that question in his new movie, "It," which some are calling the best #Stephen King adaptation in over a decade. And this is only the beginning.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The movie begins on a stormy night in October 1988, where audiences witness the love between brothers Georgie and Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher). A sick Bill helps his younger brother build a paper boat covered in wax to help it float in the slightly flooded streets caused by the heavy downpour.

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Shortly after the two brothers tell each other goodbye for the last time, we witness the gory death of little Georgie at the hands of our villain, Pennywise the Dancing Clown. This is the catalyst for the rest of the story layered in nostalgia, friendship, and growth.

Review: Chapter one

The rest of the film takes place the following year between June and September. While more children go missing, Bill is determined to find his younger brother, believing he is somehow alive even when his parents and the town of Derry have given up hope. There is a clear difference between some of the untrustworthy adults and the kids, which plays a big part in the story. The pre-teens believe in the monster under the bed, while the parents simply don't. It's the reason why they are able to see things the adults can't, such as when Beverly Marsh's (Sophia Lillis) bathroom is covered in blood after It causes blood to explode from the sink.

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Every kid in the self-proclaimed Losers' Club can see the blood, but Beverly's creepy father only sees a normal bathroom. A kid's ability to see the world in a way adults can't, whether it be because of their imagination, innocence, age, or untainted clarity, is part of what makes their perspective so engaging.

The Losers' Club is wonderfully inclusive. They don't care how different you are from anybody else; in fact, they embrace it. Even Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the new kid on the block, is welcomed in quickly by the group after they witness the bloody aftermath of his assault by local, psychotic, and deeply disturbed bully, Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). The group tries to help the injured Ben, which ultimately leads to Beverly joining the club as well after she helps the boys steal some medical supplies for the new kid. The boys don't turn her away, welcoming her into their expansive little family. They even spend hours helping to clean up the blood from her bathroom after having only just met her.

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Their determination to defend others is clear once again when they stand up for Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) from Henry and his gang of bullies by starting a rock war to drive them away. This scene works as a great parallel between the two groups: Henry's buddies abandon him when they realize they are losing the rock throwing war, and the Losers all stand together as one in victory.

The film effectively delivers clever scares and heart. Besides the wonderful performances and the themes present in the movie, there were two devices that really helped in the film's success: foreshadowing and creating suspense. In the beginning of the film, Georgie enters the eerie cellar to grab the wax for Bill so he can finish up the boat. The tense scene ends with Georgie rushing back upstairs, which foreshadows events to come. The first time Bill sees his little brother again after his disappearance is back down in that cellar. Except this time it's not Georgie; it's another manifestation of It's to manipulate and scare Bill.

The film is superb at building up suspense as well as completing horror sequences powerfully. When Bill follows "Georgie" through the house and down into the cellar, tension is created by glimpses of the dead boy via shadows and very quick flashes onscreen. Bill also discovers wet footprints, drawing on the day Georgie was killed in the rainstorm.

One of my personal favorite scenes is when Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer) sees Pennywise at the Well House, his face covered behind a stacked, upside down pyramid of red balloons that slowly move upward to reveal his face and terrifying grin. After Eddie tries to get away through a fence, he looks back just as the balloons are popping and the menacing clown is gone. These are, of course, only a few examples of the many well-crafted scenes curated to terrify the audience.

Besides the many cleverly haunting moments, there is a specific theme that jumped out at me reflected in that of notorious bully, Henry. It becomes obvious very quickly when he reveals he's willing to carve his initials into poor Ben that there is something deeply wrong with him (much of it stemming from an abusive father that he later murders). It brings up a great question relevant in most of King's work: who is scarier? The monster under the bed, or, the monsters that exist in people? Pennywise arguably has a purpose or goal, which is to feed on humans and their fear, to survive. Does Henry simply find pleasure from causing pain, though?

The greatest foreshadow comes right at the end of the film. Fans of the book know that "It" was written in two chapters: when the Losers' Club are kids, and when they face off against Pennywise as adults. Instead of cramming both perspectives into one film, the creators intelligently devoted this first chapter to the young group of children conquering their demons. In the end, Beverly admits that while she was floating in the Well House, she saw an image of the group as adults back in the cistern. The Losers' Club makes a blood pact that if It ever comes back and isn't actually dead, they'll come back to Derry to fight it once more, hinting at events to come that play out in the book.

Overall, the movie is less about the mysterious monster and much more about the characters and their relationships. Besides being the King of Horror, Stephen King has always had a knack for creating characters full of depth and relatability, especially when it comes to the younger characters. King is arguably the best at giving younger generations a voice while creating heroes out of kids that are silenced, bullied, abused, or mistreated for being different. They are surrounded by adults they cannot trust who refuse to listen, so instead, they band together.

Even when It makes attempts to separate the friends through fear and strife, the group inevitably comes together and fights back. The Losers' Club not only strengthens together as a single unit, but it makes them individually stronger as well. Whether standing up to bullies or to their own parents, that faith in each other and their bonds fortify their confidence. That confidence leads to It's undoing in the story, as the monster relies on feeding off of fear for its own strength. This vulnerability is subtly revealed earlier on in the movie when an angry Pennywise asks Bill, "I'm not real enough for you?" He needs that fear, and once they realize that and how important their unity is, the friends become greater than the evil.

In a video put together by Warner Bros. Pictures, Muschietti explains that "It" is not "your standard horror movie," and it deals with "friendship and the power of confronting darkness together." King's original work and the focus on the perspectives of a child and friends facing an evil together, along with Muschietti's vision for the film, smartly informs the structure of the plot that was carefully formatted around the young characters. They really form their own family unit, which reflects upon the old adage that friends are the family you choose. These kids all find their place with each other, and whether they're standing up to bullies, adults, or evil personified, they are strong and formidable.

The performances were arguably the best part of the film, with Lieberher, Taylor, Lillis, Jacobs, Grazer, Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier), and Wyatt Olef (Stanley Uris) cast perfectly as the Losers' Club. The kids embodied the friendship, fear, drama, unexpected humor, and even a bit of romance that wonderfully captured the spirit of their characters, youth, and the bond between them.

Whenever Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise) appears on screen he effortlessly steals the spotlight, which is an incredible gift when acting alongside an amazing group of kid actors. He captures your attention and leaves you riveted, even if part of you wants to hide behind barely opened fingers. It's in the way he speaks and moves, how he can go from standing perfectly still to disturbingly fast, distorted movements that jolt you. Tim Curry was a great It in the miniseries, but, as this is a re-adaptation of the novel and not a remake of the miniseries, Skarsgård embodies Pennywise and is closer to what I personally pictured while reading the book.

Fans of the book know that the original story takes place initially in the 1950's when the Losers' Club are kids. The time jump in the book places them in the 1980's as adults, but this movie adaptation starts with Georgie's death in 1988. Muschietti explained to PopCulture.com that he wanted to project part of his own story into the piece (much like how King does with his works) and the director grew up in the 1980's. He wanted the manifestation of fear in the movie that the kids in Derry experience to reflect the time period that was part of his own childhood.

As we find out in the story, It's pattern of killing occurs every 27 years. Besides exploring the narrative of growing up in the late 1980's, the timeline change will allow the sequel to take place roughly in 2016, which will be 27 years from the ending of the first film. It will be interesting to see this group grown-up in this modern era, and how they handle the manifestations of fear that exist in present society that It may use against them.

Easter eggs

As with most Stephen King books and adaptations, there are usually a handful of Easter eggs referencing his other works or other pieces of pop culture, and "It" was no different.

One of my favorite Easter eggs takes place in the bathroom scene with Beverly. After investigating voices in the sink, blood erupts from the pipe, blanketing Bev and the entire bathroom with blood. This scene is an homage to "Nightmare on Elm Street," when Johnny Depp's character is pulled into his bed by Freddy Krueger and blood explodes upwards, covering the room. Later in the movie, the audience can see a sign at the Derry's movie theater advertising "Nightmare on Elm Street 5," tying the connection together. Another reason that connection exists likely has to do with one of the screenwriters, Gary Dauberman. According to his IMDb page, Gary did an uncredited production rewrite for the original "Nightmare on Elm Street."

Whether or not this was intentional, the bloody bathroom scene also reminded me of the famous prom sequence from Stephen King's, "Carrie." The main character, Carrie White, is covered in pig's blood as a prank and ends up slaughtering the other students that are laughing at her with her telekinesis. The image of Carrie covered in blood was very reminiscent of the state Beverly is left in.

Chapter two

With "It" smashing records and making $123 million at the box office in its opening weekend, no one was surprised by New Line's announcement that a sequel was already in the works.

As previously mentioned, the second part of the story takes place 27 years later when It has awakened from his hibernation and is ready to kill again. As adults, the Losers' Club must reassemble because they have to defeat Pennywise together. According to Variety, screenwriter Gary Dauberman ("It," "Annabelle," "Annabelle: Creation") is set to return for the sequel, "It: Chapter Two." Director Andy Muschietta is expected to return as well. Variety reports that Muschietta wanted the first film to focus on the "emotional journey of the group of kids," feeling that the story of the Losers' as adults could be told in the second movie to maintain his vision as well as the mystery of Pennywise.

There is no doubt that we will all be ready to float again.

#MovieReview