Last Thursday, the movie theater I work at showed an early release of “It” to the staff and friends. And honestly, I didn’t want to go. I hate horror movies. But with some peer pressure of some from friends, I went to a movie theater at 11 o’clock on a school night–and honestly, it was pretty good.
In preparation for seeing the movie, I watch the original “It” for the first time. I’ve heard a lot about this film, how it was the most terrifying thing to the kids of the ’90’s, how Tim Curry’s Pennywise changed how they saw birthday parties and circuses forever. But honestly, “It” was kind of horrible. While the parts focusing on the younger versions of the characters were fine, when the adults returned to the town, it just wasn’t good. Maybe it’s the very 90’s effects or the lack of jump scares we see in modern horror movies, but this film just wasn’t scary.
So to say the least, I didn’t have high expectations for the remake. But I was pleasantly surprised.
To start, this film focuses on the child-versions of these characters and strongly hints at a sequel focusing on the adults 27 years later, which helps its case. All of us were scared little kids at one point, making all these characters very relatable to everyone. They set it up in a way where we can relate to at least one of the kids in the losers club–we feel that we are in the losers club. Also, the dialog the kids say resembles how a 14-year-old group of kids would talk around each other. While parents are around every stays PG, but once they are alone, there were more swear words then the word “the”, similar to how a 14-year-old who just discover the f-bomb talks.
But we all know a horror movie relies on the villain. So how is this new Pennywise?
I think Bill Skarsgård’s version of Pennywise could possibly be better than the original. Skarsgård has a very child-like face, and combined with his height, the makeup, and the special effects, he brings Pennywise alive. And while this film does contain many aforementioned jump scares, the main cause of suspense is in Skarsgård’s performance. I noticed one detail that really brought the character alive–at the start of the film, in the famous sewer scene, there is water from the rain running down his face. While the regular human response is to wipe the water away from your mouth, or at least keep it closed, Pennywise isn’t human, just allowing the water to run into and around his mouth, making him look very unnatural, unhuman, and making you feel uncomfortable. All these pieces tie together nicely, to create a terrifying Pennywise the dancing clown.
Finally, this film walks the very tight line between horror and comedy. I mean the villain is a clown, he should be funny too, right? This plus the general teenage-ness of the teenagers make a very comedic sense in the film. While I believe this is a dangerous line they walked–if the characters were too funny we wouldn’t feel real repercussions and suspense in any situation–they walked it well.
But this movie isn’t perfect. My main problems with it is that it mockingly put in stereotypical plot points, like the main love interest waking up his damsel with a kiss. while the other characters mocked this, it did affect the plot greatly, and just because you mock something while doing it, doesn’t mean you’re not still doing it. Also, the climax doesn’t hit as hard as I want it to. The kids go down to fight Pennywise with bats and crowbars, which does lead to a fine climax, I feel like Pennywise isn’t scary as a physical thing. He is a shape-shifting evil presence, changing into what you fear most, and watching him being beat up by a group of teenagers in a circle just didn’t feel like a good way to end this other wise great film.
But these negative didn’t ruin the entire film, and in the end I thought “It” was one of the best films I’ve seen this year. I give it an 8/10.