Ever since I went to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, I’ve had a fear of clowns. Although being chased around by clowns holding fake chainsaws in a maze is not exactly a common experience, many other people are still afraid of clowns. This shared discomfort is likely one of the reasons “It” had one of the biggest box office openings of all time for a horror movie. Based on Stephen King’s novel, “It” is about a group of teenagers banding together against Pennywise after he comes to terrorize their town. Luckily for fans, “It: Chapter Two” comes out this September and jumps 27 years into the future to see the now adults fight against Pennywise once again.
“It’s” popularity and positive critical reception seem to be the result of the movie’s mix of light-hearted plot lines, such as the love triangle between Beverly, Bill and Ben, three of the film’s main characters, and genuinely scary moments that come with seeing Pennywise lurch out of a sewer.
On the frightening side of the movie, Pennywise is an interesting antagonist, although the execution of some of the lore surrounding Pennywise can be a bit odd because of how confusing the backstory is in the books. Similarly to the dementors in “Harry Potter,”Pennywise is able to take on the physical form of each character’s greatest fear. The targeting of different characters’ personal fears allows a closer glimpse into their lives. For example, Pennywise changes into Bill’s brother, illustrating the guilt that Bill feels surrounding his death. However, this concept isn’t always applied to all of the characters, which can lead to some being far more developed than others. For example, some of the characters’ fears deal with emotional traumas, like Bill’s brother, but those of others are just eery items, like a creepy painting.
On the character-focused side, however, the movie focuses heavily on a love triangle between Beverly, Ben and Bill. Throughout the movie, Ben and Bill seemed to vie for Beverly’s attention with various methods. The triangle is left slightly ambiguous at the end, which will likely be a heavy focus of “It: Chapter Two.” The romantic aspects of the movie seemed to occupy a lot of screen time throughout, which meant there was far less time for more character development for some of the other teens and there was less time for the scary elements in the movie, which I found frustrating. The romance often seemed to be more prominent than the danger of a super-clown killing teenagers left and right, which to a reasonable watcher can be a bit confusing.
The combination of fear and lightheartedness makes “It” more fun to watch with friends. One minute the characters could all be joking around, allowing the audience to put their guards down, and then next a jump scare could occur seemingly out of nowhere, scaring the viewers more than if it were expected.
Overall, I give “It” an 8.5/10 for its excellent combination of humor and fear. I would certainly recommend watching this movie with friends to have a good laugh, or alone if you don’t plan on sleeping or going to any circuses.