Sunday night, against my better judgment, I gave in to my editor’s wishes and headed to Silverspot so I could pay $14.75 in order to be terrified for two hours and 15 minutes.
My original plan of staying as far away from “It” as possible didn’t work out, but what it did do was allow me to go into the theater with no expectations or background knowledge of the movie.
To my surprise, “It” was more than just your typical horror movie. Don’t get me wrong, it is a horror movie, but it’s also a story about kids as outsiders, full of heart, laughs and, of course, plenty of jump scares.
The movie follows a group of seven middle school weirdos in the town of Derry, Maine, as they team up to hunt down a demon clown who is haunting them all. As they learn more about the spirit, known as Pennywise the Clown, they discover he’s been haunting Derry for centuries, but he only appears every 27 years and takes on the form of his victims biggest fears.
After last summer’s Netflix hit, “Stranger Things,” it’s hard not to get the same vibe from “It,” as the middle school outcasts ride their bikes around town hunting down the supernatural.
Set in the 80s? Check. Child missing? Check. One girl in a posse of teenage boys? Check. Small rural town? Check. I mean, come on, it’s even got Finn Wolfhard, too.
Following the “Stranger Things” pattern, “It” creates a group of loveable misfits that you genuinely care about as an audience. Each member of the gang has his or her time to shine, which raises the stakes later on as you find yourself praying none of your precious losers get killed off.
Eddie, (Wolfhard) the nonstop jokester, Ben, (Jeremy Ray Taylor) the loveable newbie, and Beverly, (Sophia Lillis) the girl who flips the friend group upside down, all turn in some of the movie’s best performances.
While I did spend most of the movie squeezing my face to keep myself from screaming, the movie itself wasn’t all too scary. What got me were the countless times that scares would pop out of nowhere and cause me to gasp far too loudly. (Sorry to anyone in the theater with me.)
Obviously, Pennywise’s appearance is spine-tingling and nightmare-inducing in itself, but anytime he opened his mouth, I immediately lost any sense of fear. Well, let me correct myself. Anytime he opened his mouth to speak, I lost any sense of fear. The whole opening his mouth to bite off people’s faces and arms was pretty freaking scary.
But speaking of that, one of the only things I had a significant issue with were the special effects. At times, it seemed as if they were taken a step too far, to the point where they were no longer scary, but instead verging on comical. Instead of being terrified in some of the movie’s most intense scenes, I found myself focusing on the over the top special effects, which really brought me out of the movie.
Overall, “It” is a wonderful example of blending intense horror with plenty of humor and sincere characters. I continuously found myself going back and forth between gasps and laughs, which made it much more enjoyable for a non-horror film buff like myself.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.