Sunday, October 29, 2017

It: Nostalgic Horror

I saw It last month (like most of the world) but never got around to writing a review. However, this weekend, after bingewatching Stranger Things 2, and with Halloween just around the corner, it felt like the perfect time to remind anyone who hasn't seen this movie to watch it immediately for a nice warm dose of nostalgia and creepiness.

I'll confess I'm not a horror enthusiast. I've seen my fair share of horror movies but mostly due to coercion and peer pressure, and the type of horror I prefer has a satirical bent (like The Cabin in the Woods) or underlying social commentary (like Get Out). The only reason I went to see It was because of a colleague who repeatedly told me it was awesome (hi Phil!) and a friend who said I was the only person she could persuade to go with her (hi Elizabeth!). Having never read the original Stephen King novel or seen the iconic TV series, all I was prepared for was some sort of gory slasher film with a creepy clown. Instead, what I got was a Goonies-esque 80's adventure with a bunch of preteens riding around on bicycles and trying to piece together what was happening in their town. It was a joy.

Yes, there's a creepy clown (played to spectacular effect by Bill Skarsgard). And he gets up to a number of creepy things and terrorizes the kids in a myriad ways. But the terror tends to be mostly psychological, albeit with some bloody bits strewn about to keeps things traditional. There are terrific set pieces in underground sewers and abandoned buildings where all you can do is shout at people for being dumb enough to go into the dark, but then breathe a sigh of relief when they emerge unscathed (well, maybe not all of them). But the true joy of the film is in seeing the main cast of children interact and learn how to navigate a world in which the adults are useless and they are the only ones with the wherewithal to protect their town from a horror of epic proportions.

The movie is rated R, probably less for violent imagery and more for the language - there's nothing more delightful than hearing a preteen swear. This is how kids talk when they're away from adult ears (sorry to break it to you parents), and watching their petty squabbles and eventual reconciliation in the face of true evil is a super entertaining ride. Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard is one of the kids, playing completely against type, and it is wonderful to slip back into the glory days of movies when children actually played outside, spoke to each other, and had fabulous adventures, instead of staying indoors playing videogames.

It may be a horror movie, but I would class it more as an 80s movie. It has weird tonal shifts and is just as funny as it is creepy. It has its bloody and violent moments, but most of the time, it is a thoroughly engaging piece of entertainment that will transport you back to the summers of your childhood and make you glad that you were only playing with your friends instead of being murdered by clowns. If you haven't seen it, go to the movies this Halloween and indulge. You won't regret it. 

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