IT opened to the largest box office opening of any horror movie ever.
Which is kind of funny because I don’t think it’s really a “horror movie”.
Despite having read and written a great deal of horror, I’m not been much of a horror movie fan. (Reading it is different, somehow.) I intensely dislike jump-scares and definitely loathe body horror, torture porn, and gross-out movies. Give me Army of Darkness over the original Evil Dead any day.
I do enjoy what I tend to “dark fantasy”: movies on the other end of the horror spectrum that contain fantastical elements and dark themes. Movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, Horns, and The Lady in Black. (I also like Daniel Radcliffe as an actor but that’s a separate point.)
I’ll admit, it’s a blurry line: 28 Days Later, despite all the zombies, falls into “dark fantasy” for me, while Alien is definitely horror.
Which brings us back to IT.
I think the 2017 version of IT falls into the dark fantasy side of genre for one simple reason:
The movie isn’t about the monster.
Instead this is a movie about people, mostly the kids, but also the adults in the town. This is a movie that does what genre is supposed to do: hold a dark mirror up to reflect society and allow us to see ourselves more clearly.
Yes, the monster appears, and does damage to the town, and is delightfully creepy (though almost over using every horror movie monster trope developed over the last few years).
But the threat of Pennywise is not just there for jump scares. Pennywise’s actions – and the actions Pennywise inspire – serve to reveal the core of the human characters and the relationships between them.
That exploration of character and relationships is the power of this movie, from the quiet brotherly love of the first scene to the quiet, slow separation of the group in the last, so reminiscent of the promises to always stay in touch after high school.
I greatly enjoyed the film, and suspect you will too.