Pennywise the fantastic dancing clown certainly left an impression on me as I walked away from the theater. But what was that feeling exactly?
I didn’t sense the evil Pennywise lurking under my bed, or irrationally fear any glimpse of a red balloon. Instead, “It” left with me with a curious sense of satisfaction, and I’m beginning to think all the stuff I liked wasn’t what was sold in trailers or in the marketing.
I think the horror in this film tries to appease two different audiences, and fails because it splits its efforts.
To elaborate on this sentiment, there are jump scares and psychological horror. Psychological horror is more cerebral in my opinion. It’s voices coming from inanimate objects, or TVs playing spooky programming in the background.
Scares in that manner feel much more earned than jump scares, which are someone saying “Boo!” as you walk around a corner. Yes, it’ll make you scream, but only like a comedian telling a joke and then tickling your feet.
Psychological horror tends to stay with you more because it’s relatable and you can see it in everyday life.
“It” attempted to mix both, and while it had multiple terrifying scenes, the film will never be genuinely creepy because it gave too much attention to those jump scares, which are typically accompanied by loud clanging and chaotic camera movements to try to artificially create a sense of horror.
Unfortunately, those scenes will overshadow the few tense moments I had to look away.
Now an element that saves the movie, and makes “It” special, is the acting. The bonds the kids share are really believable and almost heartwarming. Finn Wolfhard (the kid from “Stranger Things”) as Richie and Sophia Lillis as Beverly were particularly fun to watch, but all the kids had a certain chemistry.
It’s hard not to fall in love with them, because the dialogue evokes memories of running around with friends back in freshman year of high school. That empathy viewers experience is very telling of a smartly written movie.
And it wasn’t just the children’s banter that seemed down to Earth. Bill Skarsgård did a fantastic job as Pennywise, and although the horror wasn’t always on point, his delivery of every line was.
There’s a scene near the start of just him talking, and personally, it was one of the more horrific moments of the entire film. However, in that very same scene there was some comedy used by Pennywise, and viewers didn’t know whether to laugh or curl up in a ball out of fright.
If done poorly, this could lead to confusion, but instead it was very natural.
It all led to the movie having this very fairy-tale tone that was truly believable because viewers could picture themselves in this exact situation, even if “It”is absurd.
Overall, this movie’s writing, casting, directing and cinematography led to a sense of quality that had the makings of a true classic to be re-watched for years to come.
However, the execution of the horror of “It,” and by extension its premise, left the impression of a film that’ll be forgotten for the most part. But don’t get me wrong, I walked to my car with a gigantic Pennywise-esque grin on my face.