Demo Scenes: It (2017)
“The S.S. Georgie & the Sewer”
(Chapter 1, 5:09–9:11)
A great home theater demo scene should accomplish a handful of things, aside from merely looking and sounding great. It should be compelling in its own right, even if you’re not familiar with the movie from which it’s pulled. It shouldn’t spoil anything major about the story. And in terms of imagery and sound, it should engage the viewers in a way that wouldn’t be nearly as effective on a lesser AV system.
The opening chapter of It—the first of two movies to adapt Stephen King’s beloved 1,138-page horror opus—does all of that and more, especially the 4K/HDR release with Dolby Atmos sound. If you own the film on Kaleidescape, you can access the best parts of this opening sequence by navigating to the Scenes collection and picking the first option: “The S.S. Georgie &
the Sewer.” If you own the film on disc or via another digital retailer like Vudu or iTunes, just press play and let the opening of the film run. You’ll have to sit through the opening credits and a few establishing shots, but it doesn’t add a lot of unnecessary length to the demo.
The real show starts at around the 5-minute mark, as little Georgie Denbrough—the younger brother of one of the movie’s main protagonists—ventures out into a storm to test his new and freshly waxed paper boat in the suburban streets of Derry, Maine.
Though the weather may be frightful, the imagery here is absolutely delightful, thanks largely to the blend of inky shadows and striking highlights caused by projectiles of rain bombarding the slick neighborhood blacktop. The visuals are matched by an equally engrossing Dolby Atmos sound mix, which fills the room not only with the sound of falling rain and splashing puddles but also with the fantastical score by Benjamin Wallfisch (whose work you may also remember from Shazam! and Blade Runner 2049). The music starts playfully, perhaps even innocently, but takes a turn for the sinister as little Georgie’s waxed paper boat slips away from him and rockets down the gutters toward the open maw of a storm sewer nearby.
The shadows in this storm drain are so stygian that it’s honestly a shock when the visage of Pennywise the Dancing Clown appears therein, first as a pair of creepy eyes floating in utter darkness, then as a murderous grin hovering in a stray beam of almost-but-not-quite-complete blackness. From here on out, the scene would strain the confines of creepiness even if it were just Pennywise and Georgie talking across the lip of the storm sewer. But the movie cranks the tension to even higher levels by filling the overhead channels with a haunting mix of thunder, wind chimes, and strings that sound more like they’re being tortured than played.
You don’t have to be a spooky-movie expert to know that things aren’t building toward a happy ending for little Georgie here. Heck, you don’t even have to look at the screen to know that Pennywise is up to no good. But the audiovisual experience here is just so enthralling that you won’t be able to cover your eyes (or your ears) even if you want to.
Dennis Burger is an avid Star Wars scholar, Tolkien fanatic, and Corvette enthusiast who somehow also manages to find time for technological passions including high-end audio, home automation, and video gaming. He lives in the armpit of Alabama with his wife Bethany and their four-legged child Bruno, a 75-pound American Staffordshire Terrier who thinks he’s a Pomeranian.