Coming from someone who doesn’t normally watch many horror movies, “It” does a good job at balancing out comedy, emotion, solid acting, and disturbing content that fans of the novel should enjoy. That being said, the film is clearly not for all audiences and has an abundance of horrifying material.
Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film involves a small town in Maine that is plagued by supernatural elements, particularly a disturbing character named “Pennywise The Dancing Clown,” who kidnaps young children. When these terrors begin to affect a group of young outcasts, they find themselves compelled to further investigate these mysteries and take it upon themselves to rid their home of the clown forever.
While I’m not usually someone that likes most scary movies, this film has the kind of buzz that made me realize I couldn’t miss it. Without reading the novel or seeing the original screen adaptation, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this version. Admittedly, I wasn’t wild about the graphic material in the beginning, but it is well-balanced by other aspects and didn’t scare me as much as I had imagined. That’s not to say others seated around me weren’t shrieking and jumping in their seats.
Most viewers likely go to see these types of films for the thrills, but it was the comedy and child actors that were most appealing. There’s a clear place for the unsettling, chilling content in the film, but the best scenes were the ones with the kids goofing around, coming-of-age, and investigating the supernatural. Maybe it’s because I was once a young, curious male adolescent, but the constant jabs, profanity or smart-ass remarks amongst the group provided more than a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments.
The film does a nice job at providing a layer of sentiment that makes the characters relatable and adds a certain depth to the movie. This is shown through emotionally driven scenes of loved ones lost to the deranged clown, a light teenage love story, the constant bullying of multiple characters, and the individual demons (physically and mentally) each child faces throughout the film. Fans of the more frightening, at times over the top, traditional horror scenes should not be turned off by this, as there’s still plenty of dark material to go around.
Several elements have been cited as the inspiration for the film. In addition to staying faithful to King’s novel, those involved with the development give a comparison to Stand by Me, The Goonies and Netflix’s Stranger Things. They state, “It’s very much an homage to ‘80s movies, whether it’s classic Stephen King or Spielberg.” In regards to the content, they go on to say, “If you’re going to make an ‘R-rated movie’, you have to fully embrace what it is, and you have to embrace the source material. It is a scary clown that’s trying to kill kids.”
This well-crafted film is receiving mostly positive reviews that highlight the acting and the frightening, yet emotional story that feels like classic Stephen King. As this project has long been envisioned as a multi-part story, a potential sequel is being discussed. Those involve state that “Part one is only about the kids. Part two is about these characters 30 years later as adults.” If early reviews and reception of this installment are any indication of box office success, it’s likely we’ll see another “It” movie before long.
4 out of 5 stars.
IT is rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language. Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes.