Was That Really ‘It’?

Photograph courtesy of Rex/Rex USA

by Ethan Gathman

With the summer box office currently lower than it’s been in many years, it’s not surprising that almost every movie released in the past several months has been almost completely forgotten about. However, one film has been dominating the box office despite the  evidence against it. The film, “It,” is based off the classic Stephen King novel of the same name. Coming out on top for three weekends in a row, “It” has not only broken the box office slump, but has also broken new records as well, with it being the best September opening weekend end ever.

With all of this in mind, I had my hopes up when I walked into the theater to see it. But as the movie ended and the credits started rolling, I was more underwhelmed than pumped up. How could have something like that happen? With all the hype and the praise why did it end up so … mediocre?

For my first and most disappointing reason was the lack of genuine scares. The movie, by all means, isn’t a psychological thriller so it relied heavily visual scares, and even then, mostly jump scares. And while I’m not a huge fan of jump scares, I at least appreciate them if they’re done well. The jump scares in “It” were not done well. Instead of actually thinking of ways to scare the viewer to get a reaction, the movie just used obnoxiously loud pitched music to substitute for the lack of scare. The music only made me irritated rather than actually frightened. On several occasions I even had to cover my ears. If the movie’s intention was to make me shuffle uncomfortably in my seat then it did a fantastic job.

As well as that, when the movie would actually be creepy, they kept on ruining the mood by shoehorning in weird, out of place jokes. This is a pattern that I’ve noticed a lot with recently released movies. They either have to have joke in every single scene or not have any jokes in the entire movie at all. Why can’t there be a middle ground? I recall one moment in “It” when the kids were navigating through Pennywise’s lair and the atmosphere was intense and kept me on my toes. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the kids made a joke and the whole theater ended up laughing. I felt betrayed, as the scene had done such a great job building up the suspense and all it took was that single line of dialogue to undo all of its work.

Another issue I found with the film was its shoddy pacing. I appreciate that the film put in the time to individually introduce each character to Pennywise, but when each scene is exactly like the others, beat by beat, it becomes more of a time kill than plot development. Every scene essentially went like this: One of the kids would be alone, something unusual would happen (like a door opening on its own), the kid would dumbly investigate it, they would see something scary which would turn out to be Pennywise, he’d chase them around for a little bit, they’d get away, and the next day it’d be like it never happened.

The lack of suspense and consequence in the movie made “It,” for the most part, bland. All and all, I wouldn’t quite describe “It” as a horror movie. Instead, I would call it more of a comedy.

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