It is the highly-anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel and the remake of the 1990 television miniseries of the same name. The film centers around a group of unpopular middle-schoolers who begin to see a monster that takes the shape of a clown named Pennywise. This monster also feeds off of the kids’ fears. Whether it be a scary painting or an abusive father, these lingering thoughts are used to the monster’s advantage.
This film has been on film-lovers’ radars for years, so to say that there is a good amount of anticipation from audiences is an understatement. Gratefully, for those looking for a fun, haunted-house-like adventure, It does not disappoint. The movie does justice to the book and the original film adaptation while paving its own path all the same.
What It does right that most horror movies recently seem to be missing is the personal aspect of the story. Where most would rely on creepy imagery and suspense, It combines the fantastical terror with elements that are all too real. Using the victim’s fears adds a realness to the horror that elevates It above other conventional scary movies. The demon in the film is played unsettlingly by Bill Skarsgård. In addition to Skarsgård’s unnerving performance, the acting from the ensemble cast is surprisingly solid, especially given all of the actors are under the legal age to see the movie they are in. Special recognition goes to Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Jaeden Lieberher, who both captured the lightheartedness of their characters with expertise.
However, there are times where the film can be a bit heavy-handed with its scares. At the end of the first act, in order to give each character a reason to be in the movie, they show each character running into the demon in some way. They show roughly six or seven scenes consecutively of the terrorizing these children, and after one or two it gets old and predictable. There may not have been a clear way to avoid this from a storytelling perspective, but it still could have been improved by either implying some of the scenes or by spreading them out within the narrative.
This movie also carries the same flaw that the majority of horror films contain: Why doesn’t the demon just kill the protagonists to begin with? There are countless scenes that involve the demon scaring the kids and the audience, but for some reason it always lets the kids escape. This is never explained, but it seems like the screenwriters needed the film to last, so they had to mask scenes with enough creepy imagery to distract the audience from the flaws of each situation. That being said, these scenes are for the most part very effective, and they give the film plenty of material to keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen.
Overall, It conjures up some good scares even though it sometimes reverts back to the typical cliches that come with the genre. It gives each character a good arc and backstory, and uses that to make the scenes of horror all that more creepy. While the jump scares don’t work for the majority of the time, the overall horror will leave you terrified and captivated. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.
~joel alexander, staff reporter