‘It’ movie review
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
Many horror films are bad movies.
Let’s get that out of the way right now. We all know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the films that are just made to be a never-ending parade of gore and bodies. They may be enjoyable for you depending on who you are, but it would be hard to call them good movies.
It is the new horror film on the block, and it’s making waves. It now has the biggest opening for a horror film ever. But is it any good?
Well the good news is that It takes from some of the best horror films in the genre!
Property of Warner Bros. Entertainment
The bad news is It also takes from some of the worst aspects of horror films.
Property of Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios
So let’s break it down.
It is the story of a clown…um…thing as it hunts down and murders children in the town of Derry, Maine. After losing his brother to the monster in the film’s opening scene, a young boy named Bill and his ever-expanding group of friends find out about the creature and try to survive its killing spree.
Probably the best thing about this movie is that It‘s group of characters:
Property of Warner Bros. Pictures
are not like these guys (from Texas Chainsaw 3D).
Property of Lionsgate
The characters of It aren’t like the disposable characters of many other horror flicks. Most of these characters are fully formed, actual people with flaws, insecurities, and other things going on in their lives besides trying to avoid a gruesome death. Not only that, but they act like actual kids. They chill, they do stupid competitions, they fight, they tease each other, and they support one another. Oh, and of course, when a cute girl shows up, they all lose their composure and it’s great fun. Don’t worry, though. That girl is also a full character and at no point is there just to scream. They really feel like a friend group that would actually exist, and by the end of the film, you may find yourself rooting for them.
In fact, a large amount of the film focuses on them and their relationship to each other instead of the violence and killing. For those who want an endless bloodbath, you won’t find it here, but this actually improves the film a lot. The story has a heart that you honestly don’t see too much in blockbusters anymore, and it helps the film get through its rough spots.
The second thing this film does really well is its monster. The guy playing Pennywise did a great job. He really captures the menace of Pennywise enough for it to be a credible threat, while also showing a troll-like personality. Pennywise likes to play with its food, and the film’s most effective horror scenes come from that mindset. It’s the act of waiting for the actual death that gets you. The scene with the boy in the raincoat is actually one of the most uncomfortable scenes, despite everyone seeing it in the trailers, because it has you dreading when the other shoe is going to drop.
Finally, the finale is awesome! It’s up there with Ripley’s turnaround in Aliens.
Property of 20th Century Fox
It’s not just “AHHHHHH!” while running through the woods or down a hallway. The characters become proactive. They actually go and do something to try to stop the creature and it works so well. When that line is spoken (you’ll know which), it gets you pretty dang hyped, to the point that I yelled out “YES!” in my theater.
Sadly, this film does dip into some of the worst things about horror movies. The killer being a moron at certain points? The characters acting like they’re trying to die? It’s all here.
First off, and most annoying, the characters seem to lose their hearing or just turn their brains off when the horror starts.
“What’s that? The creature is messing with our minds and trying to trick us with things that aren’t real? That’s nice. I think I hear someone calling me in that dark, isolated room though, so I’m gonna go. Be back later!”
“Huh? We have to stick together if we want to live? That’s cool. I’m gonna go wander off by myself now.”
It gets so bad that the main character gives a rousing speech on how they absolutely have to stick together…and then goes wandering off by himself two minutes later.
Property of CBS Entertainment
Secondly, as great as it is when Pennywise plays with its food, the film lays it on a little too thick. There’s at least two instances where the film stops dead in its tracks just so Pennywise can go around scaring members of the group one after the other. Why doesn’t it kill them right then and there, you ask?
Property of Sony Pictures
These sequences stop being scary halfway through because each scene is just like the last one, and combined with the kids acting like idiots, it takes you out of the movie. First Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does this. Now It? It doesn’t work, Hollywood. Stop it.
Third, some of the kids’ jokes overstay their welcome. Towards the beginning, they’re constantly dropping f-bombs and talking about private areas of the body. Some of it is probably the creators showing off that fancy R-rating, but when one of the kids constantly makes “I was with your mom” jokes, it just gets obnoxious. Kids in movies don’t need to be this level of cringe. Thankfully, it stops once things get going.
So with all that said, where does that leave It? Well, while it does fall into the pitfalls of other horror films, it wasn’t enough to drag down the whole film for me. Sure, there were scenes that make you go, “Why’s he going off by himself?” and “Don’t open that, you idiot!”. But after you get past those, you still end up with a good coming-of-age story with likable characters and a good message in the center of it all that can still deliver some actual tenseness when it wants to.
This movie sequel-baits harder than any other film I’ve ever seen, but you know what? While that sequel wouldn’t have been on my radar at all before I saw this, it’s something to keep an eye on now.
So yes, It is worth seeing. Just remember that it’s got some dead weight in it after all.