With terrifying imagery, an unpredictable antagonist and empathetic characters, It is an intense and engaging horror film.
Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the film focuses on a group of kids living in 1980s Maine. They encounter an evil entity that is able manifest as an individual’s greatest fear, its most common form being a horrifying clown called Pennywise. The kids then attempt to destroy the entity, facing their worst fears in the process.
It’s hard for me to review this film without comparing it to the 1990 miniseries. The characters here are just as empathetic and relatable as they are in the 1990 version. They all have weaknesses and degrading backgrounds such as Beverly with her abusive father, Ben with his weight, Eddie with his overprotective mother and Bill with his stutter and crippling grief following his brother’s death. They come together in ‘the Losers Club’, becoming great friends regardless of their flaws.
However, what makes the characters more compelling here than in the miniseries is the amount of time they get. The film focuses entirely on the Losers Club as children encountering It for the first time. There are no flash forwards to them as adults. Plots that were barely apparent in the miniseries like the love triangle between Bill, Beverly and Ben, are expanded and have a stronger impact. You feel their joy and horror, without any flash forwards interrupting the journey.
The scares in It aren’t that different from those in the miniseries or the Goosebumps TV show.
The entity can adopt various forms, all of them uniquely terrifying such as a diseased man, a living painting and of course Pennywise. We’ve seen random, imaginative monsters many times before in Goosebumps and A Nightmare on Elm Street but they’re usually depicted with unconvincing practical effects. Using recent digital technology and updated makeup effects however, It manages to present its monsters with heart-racing realism. Creatures and images that we could only imagine are brought to life.
While I loved the imagination and detail in the film’s horror, I thought the use of jumpscares was very gratuitous. Every time It appears there’s a loud booming noise. The film cannot show It and let it be disturbing on its own, there has to be a loud noise to make the audience jump. There are many scenes that can be scary without a loud noise.
It’s unfortunate that a film with fantastic nightmarish imagery, exploits the jumpscare as cheaply as Blair Witch and the Paranormal Activity sequels.
Despite the countless loud booming noises however, this adaptation of It is a scarier and more emotional experience than the miniseries. If you want characters you’ll love and monsters that you haven’t seen before, I strongly recommend it.
I give It a solid 8 out of 10.