Clowns are scary, that’s just a fact. If anyone thinks otherwise then I truly envy your lack of fear towards films that predominantly feature clown related villains. It is one of the films I put off for so long because of this terrified aversion to red balloons and face paint. But as it turns out, It can’t handle pulling off any proper horror, instead veering directly into messy genre clash that struggles to pull genuine scares out of an exceedingly long running time.
For a film that set such a precedent and standard for modern fear filmmaking, It comes across as a shallow punch, providing us only with the occasional jump scare or shock visual instead of anything that could be more sustainable than a brief scene. Clowns are undoubtably scary when put under minimal lighting and with a backdrop of ominous music. But that isn’t what creates an atmosphere, what that does instead is create merely a visual delight that has limited depth. The lack of depth throughout It may be the biggest reason I didn’t find it scary. For me to not find a film scary is undoubtably the worst thing I could possibly say, especially for a horror film.
While this atmosphere is lacking entirely, it doesn’t detract from some fairly strong and enjoyable performances given by a cast of very talented teens. Finn Wolfhard specifically gives a great supporting role here, and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise is a bearable addition to the cast, thankfully hidden behind caked up layers of clown makeup. His performance doesn’t revolve around more than a few special effects and a handful of jump scares, but his commitment to an eerie on-screen presence really helps the film hobble along in its climactic, yet incredibly dull third act.
That’s not to say the other two acts were anything but dull, though. They provide us with the expected storytelling tropes. Bullies that will be used as cannon fodder later to present Pennywise the Clown as a force to be reckoned with. Our main group of characters are fed little snippets of surprise around every corner, there is no disbelief or feeling that they could be seeing tricks of the mind. Everything is all very coincidental, to the point where it makes for an extremely boring viewing.
Director Andy Muschietti has really struggled to make a competent piece of horror here. He leaps through every trope of the genre, while at the same time trying to generate enough energy to provide us with vibes of Stand By Me and Stranger Things. A supposed nostalgia trip of horror that fails to give us anything to look forward to for the sequel, It is a boring, yet completely innocent and competent film that will elicit little fear from even the most terrified of the horror genre.