The film It (2017) surprised me. In fact, I saw it five times due to how much I enjoyed it! Unlike a majority of modern horror films, it focused more on story and character development rather than cheap jump scares and overused horror mechanics. This is why I am breaking this review into two: the story itself and how scary it actually was for me. The following review is purely my own opinion, so whether you loved or hated It (2017), here’s what I got to say!

The film focuses on a group of friends who call themselves the ‘Loser’s Club’. These friends were highly reminiscent of older films such as Stand By Me (1986) (which is also by Stephen King), The Goonies (1985), and The Lost Boys (1987) just to name a few. One aspect that all these films share is friendship and maturity among groups of kids, which It (2017) played effectively. Some might say this is an overplayed theme in Stephen King’s stories, but to me, this film brought a sense of nostalgia. The conversations held by the Losers (even if vulgar) were similar to the ones I would have at that age and it represented the immaturity and carelessness growing up as a kid. The film as a whole hit close at home since I saw these kids grow up in the span of 2 hours. Fortunately for moviegoers, It (2017) was the first chapter, meaning that we will soon see a film in which the Loser’s Club is all grown up; facing newer conflicts as they have reached adulthood.

They grew from scared and hesitant kids to fearless and strong towards the end of the story. The film taught values that would not normally be expected from a horror film. It taught the value of trust, strength, and unity among friends. It (2017) taught us that even if times are tough, we must never lose sight of those who have been there for us, and if we are to be in unity then we can fight a greater battle; which in their case was literal with the creature of It. It taught the strengths of standing up for yourself, as displayed by Beverly Marsh confronting her abusive father and the Losers defending Mike Hanlon against Henry Bowers alongside his goons. These interactions among the movie characters made their performances to be more realistic among young teenagers. What teenager doesn’t swear or speak a few vulgarities?

Another important point that was displayed in It (2017) was that of the Losers’ fears. Whether these fears be irrational (Stanley’s flute woman) or rational (Beverly’s abusive creepy dad), each individual took it within themselves to confront them (quite literally) and instead better themselves. I believe that It had a great story full of emotions and changes, definitely deserving of a second watch.

Alright, this is a horror film, so let’s get down to business! Now when it comes to horror, I am rarely ever scared anymore as I’m used to the same overused clichés that seem to plague a majority of more recent films (I’m looking at you ghosts). To me, the scenes that were the most unsettling were the ones with  Beverly’s dad, rather than Pennywise himself (although it is known that Pennywise influences people). What made these scenes unsettling was the underlying sense of pedophilia which felt so apparent even if not explicit. Beverly’s own dad caused her to have an emotional breakdown, and we see her mature as well. I believe that the cutting of her hair represented removing innocence and the beginning of a stronger young woman. That is why when she stepped up to her dad, I felt a sense of relief from the tension felt whenever he’d come on screen. 

Another scene that still stays in my head was when Pennywise the Clown waved a bloody arm at Mike. This scene was so out of place and unexpected, proving that horror can happen even in broad daylight. Bill Skarsgård’s portrayal of Pennywise was unsettling and creepy, even scarier than Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise from the 90s miniseries. Now don’t get me wrong, Tim Curry’s Pennywise will forever be my favorite as he was so full of character, memorable, and even funny. It was obvious that Andy Muschietti was aiming toward a darker and scarier film than the 90s miniseries.

We see the darker aspect right off the bat when poor Georgie’s arm is ripped off in the first 10 minutes of the film. I knew this happened in the book, but I was surprised that they decided to include it in the production. The reason this was so disturbing to me related to the very fact that a small innocent child suffers this badly in a film. I also loved Pennywise’s first scene with Georgie mostly due to his conflicted character. The way he talked with such glee, almost made him seem funny and fun to be around, playing with the feeling of the viewer. The moment I saw the shift in his character, it disturbed those feelings of innocence and happiness, replacing them immediately with the terror of a murderous creature.

One scene that I also enjoyed was when the Losers first confronted Pennywise in the haunted house. The house itself gave an older ghost movie vibe such as “House On Haunted Hill”(1959) or “Thirteen Ghosts”(1960). I enjoyed this scene as they appeared to be shocked, overwhelmed, and finally knew what they were up against. I know I’d be scared shitless if I were in their shoes.

Whether you want a good story or horror, It (2017) is the film for you and I do recommend you give it a watch. I am curious as to how Pennywise’s origins will possibly be explained in the second film, and perhaps a glimpse into Stephen King’s macro verse, but that is a whole different article.

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