'It': A Collegiette's Review

I walked into a packed theater Friday night weeks after the premier date for the much-anticipated film adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 horror novel, It. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.

It follows a group of middle school kids called the "Losers' Club" who are being hunted by a terrifying human-eating clown called Pennywise who lives in the sewer. Normal, right? That’s just a quick summary, though, and I assure you that there are many dimensions to this story that had me engaged and peeling away layers to understand what was going on. While I’m not a die-hard King fan, I do remember reading It at the beginning of high school and being so disturbed that I had to put it down mid-chapter ... so props to him for creating a storyline so scary that the thought of it sends chills down my spine.

After watching the previews, I had originally expected the movie to be perfect nightmare fuel and I was eager to hide behind my fingers the whole time. However, while there were a good amount of the expected jump scares, it was not nearly as scary as I’d suspected. Luckily, the jump scares weren't cheap or poorly executed, and they accounted for a large portion of the “horror” in the movie. The most terrifying part about the jump scares was that it was clear when something bad was about to happen, but it wasn't obvious exactly when something would pop out, therefore it'd shock you nonetheless.

One aspect of the new movie adaption that I appreciated is how authentic the characters are: many have relatable backstories or opposing forces that are hardships they have to work past. For example, one girl who joins the Losers' Club, Beverly, is bullied and name-called at school and fears going home to her abusive, controlling father. Mike is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and grow to be tough like him, but it’s not what he wants to do with his life. Bill is constantly feeling guilty about the death of his brother and is shut down by his parents whenever he tries to talk about it. Whenever the group is together, however, it seems to lessen the severity of their troubles and they're able to find support in one another.

Overall, the movie follows the kids throughout their daily lives and focuses little on the adults in the town. Though the parents appear every once in a while, they're no more than antagonists who complicate the children's lives more so than they already are. This is an interesting dynamic that speaks to the difficulty of adolescence: sometimes the weight of youthful issues isn't less difficult to navigate than in adulthood, and we must be mindful of that.

The most pleasantly surprising aspect of the movie was just how funny it is: the comedy and horror is a refreshing combination. The star comedian of the Losers' Club, Richie, has many stupidly hilarious and inappropriate one-liners that actually had me laughing out loud. The simplicity and childishness of the humor, which is made up of many "your mom" jokes and zingers, perfectly complements the heavy plot and really kept me engaged throughout the story.

*Spoiler alert* One of the most interesting and raw scenes is at the end. The Losers' Club takes part in a blood oath that requires them to reunite if Pennywise ever comes back so they can defeat him once and for all. Though the idea of a blood oath is kind of intense, I thought it was a moving way to connect the characters deeply, personally and unbreakably. (It'll also make for an interesting sequel!)

Overall, I recommend It: it's a refreshing combination of well-planned jump scares, glances into the dynamics of youth, and humor.

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