Horror films are the Marmite of genre movies; either you love them, or the mere thought of them repulses you. For me, I love horror movies (F.Y.I., hate Marmite), and as a lover of this genre you have to plow through a lot of rubbish before you find something that blows you away. Just like Jordan Peele’s Get Out earlier in 2017, in the remake of Stephen King’s It, we’re shown just what horror films should look like. It gives us a talented cast of child actors who can carry a two-hour with great humour, a genuinely spooky antagonist and a grounded, dismal reality in which our heroes live to turn small-town America into a nightmare we’d never like to be a part of.
What makes It such a great horror film is its acknowledgement throughout that the real threat to the protagonists is the ‘real’ world around them; the town of Derry minus all of the demonic appearances. Before Pennywise the Dancing Clown wakes up from its 27-year hibernation, the Losers’ Club (as they like to refer to themselves as) are battling everything from bullying to racism to sexual abuse. Pennywise, who is masterfully played by Bill Skarsgård (Hemlock Grove), appears for the most part the least of their concerns at times, but remains an omnipresent predator that, when the Losers are at their most vulnerable, goes in for the kill. It’s one thing trying to destroy a demon and rid the town of its menace. For the Losers, it’s another thing dealing with It and your overbearing, abusive, negligent parents, school bullies and a town that feels almost void of much human emotion.