Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog will know that horror isn’t really my go-to genre. I don’t revel in being scared and am fairly easily freaked out. I heard a lot about It when it came out last year, mostly positive and I did read the book many, many years ago, not that I can remember much. So when it popped up on my Now TV recommendations recently I thought I might as well give it a go.
As Ben digs into the history of Derry and the gang investigates, while trying to avoid a local gang of teen thugs they all start to see visions of the things that scare them most along with a sinister clown (Bill Skarsgard), who seems to want to trap them.
I have very mixed feelings about this film. On the good side the performances from the young actors is excellent. They are all very believable and engaging with Sophia Lillis as an absolute stand out. The 80’s setting is very authentic and for me nostalgic. Having a villain who feeds on fear is a good concept and Skarsgard does a great job of embodying It and accessing his slightly tragic element. The best thing though is the coming of age element of the film as well as the issues the characters are facing in their lives. Their friendship with and loyalty to each other is powerful and their wrestle with being outcasts and with surviving their family dynamics is the heart of the film.
On the other hand, It himself is just not that scary. I think I properly jumped once and for the rest of the time, although he is creepy the film lacks the sense of dread that a good horror movie inspires. There are also possibly too many characters, which means some of them get a raw deal. Mike’s (Chosen Jacobs) story is really interesting but he barely gets a look in until the last moment. I get that the characters are from the book but that isn’t usually a reason not to make changes. Not enough time is put into explaining why some of the characters have the fears they do and in that way their visions are just less interesting or scary.
I am interested to see how they deal with the second half of the story when the gang return to Derry as adults however I can’t help but think this first half could have been better.