A lot of people say they don't do well with horror movies, but I do not do well with horror movies. I'm a paranoid and anxious person as it is, and nothing makes me absolutely lose my mind like some sparse ominous music cues, a dark room, and a well–placed jump scare. As a movie lover, this has proven to be a problem. Whenever a great new horror flick comes out, I’m forced to choose between missing out on a great film that everyone’s talking about and being a nervous wreck for 90–120 minutes. I saw the trailer for It, the remake of the classic 1990 miniseries based off of Stephen King’s novel, and could tell this was one of those movies that everyone would be seeing. I refused to miss out this time, so I decided that I'd take the plunge come September 7th.
I considered watching it on opening night. It would be packed, and the energy in the room would probably be crazy and fun. Then I realized that after the movie, I’d have to walk home to my apartment alone—at night. I wasn’t trying to be ambushed by a clown in front of FroGro, so needless to say I bought my ticket for a 3 p.m. showing on Friday instead. Here's how that went down:
I walk into the theater, comforted by the broad daylight. I immediately regret my decision to come here when every single preview is for a horror movie. After a particularly traumatizing trailer for the new Saw movie, I’m already completely curled up into a ball in my seat. The movie finally begins and we’re introduced to Bill and Georgie—two brothers and two of the most important characters in the movie. Georgie is wearing a turtleneck and a raincoat and is one of the most adorable kids I have ever seen in my life. Seeing him run around, building a little paper boat to play with, makes me briefly consider what it would be like to be older and have children. I’m yanked out of my daydream about my middle–aged future by the sight of It himself peering out of a sewer. Not only does this clown look terrifying, but his mannerisms make me unbelievably uncomfortable. I’m back curled up into my safe little ball; I know something bad is about to happen. No spoilers, but let's just say I’m right.
The next hour of the movie is essentially a series of nightmarish sequences in which this clown terrorizes each of the main characters. Every time my heart rate recovers from the last scare, Pennywise the clown comes back out again with some new terrifying imagery for me to wince at while my hands half–cover my eyes. At this point I’m convinced I’m going to have a heart attack in the middle of the University City Cinemark. I’m hoping that Street will pay for my medical bills. After a few particularly scary set pieces (there’s basically a 20–minute haunted house sequence smack in the middle of the film) the movie hits a bit of a slow spot. Here’s where I get into my actual critique of the movie: while it is pretty consistently scary, the way the story is told is a bit amateurish. The story beats felt all too familiar, right down to the contrived third act fight between the main characters—only for them to reunite 20 minutes later after realizing that they “have to stick together!” Additionally, the final battle between It and our group of protagonists (is that a spoiler?) is pretty sloppy, and the exact mythology behind the clown is hastily explained away in favor of a typical Hollywood fight scene. That being said, director Andrés Muschietti continues to deliver the terrifying imagery throughout the final act—so much so that as the credits began to roll, I realize I've been tensed up for the past two hours.
I walk out of the theater pretty proud of myself: I had successfully sat through a horror movie and only audibly gasped a couple of times. The movie is already slated for a sequel, so who knows; maybe I’ll be back in the next couple of years to go through this trauma all over again.