Horror or Coming of Age: Which Is "It"?
Is 'It' a terrifying horror flick, or a classic coming of age tale?
#It has taken the world by storm, breaking huge records in its opening weekend and continuing to climb high. And I must say, after seeing the film, it isn't surprising. This movie is all kinds of scary, and it isn't just #Pennywise the Dancing Clown that will haunt your nightmares. But despite its well deserved 'R' rating, many parents are taking their young children to see It. This begs the question: do they really know what they're getting into? Anyone who has seen the movie will know that there are certain scenes that children should not be viewing. But on the other hand, this #horror flick actually has a lot of strong and hopeful messages. In some moments it almost feels like a wholesome film. You can't help but wonder: is It truly a horror movie? Or could it actually be considered a coming of age film?
If you don't like clowns, you really won't like 'It.'
For many people, regular circus clowns are bad enough. But a demonic clown who eats children? We all have a line, and this remake's version of Pennywise the Dancing Clown definitely toed, even crossed that line. There's no question that Tim Curry's It was frightening, but between the giant red nose, the fire engine red wig, and the makeup, he very much appeared to be your average clown. Even the costume was bright and colorful - no doubt to lure in children. #BillSkarsgard's Pennywise is decidedly more demon than clown. From that haunting smile to the cracking makeup, and the costume which is worn and aged, it is clear that there is something very off about It. His appearance alone is frightening enough, but add a whole lot of jump scares and the tendency to tear off kid's arms and eat them, this is not the kind of clown your child will find funny. The clip says it all, and it's the tamest Pennywise moment of the film.
Pennywise isn't the only thing unsuitable for children.
Going into this film, you can't be blamed for expecting the demon clown to be the thing that scares you most. But this movie is so much more than that. We aren't just talking about a clown, we're talking about a presence that represents fear itself. The audience is faced with many haunting images and quite a decent amount of gore. I cannot stress this enough. Within the first ten minutes we see a child's arm ripped clean off. It is not clowning around. But what was perhaps most surprising was the terror that remained even when Pennywise was off screen. #TheLosersClub faces many foes throughout the film, one of the most terrifying being the town's bully, Henry Bowers who literally tries to carve his name into another person's skin. And of course, each member of the Club has their own demons to face. For Beverly, it's her father. And while the book delved much deeper into it, the film heavily implied that he had sexual feelings for his daughter. Creepy doesn't even begin to cover it. With so much terror, so many disgusting and vile things taking place in Derry, It undoubtedly falls into the horror genre. But despite this, the film has some surprisingly lighthearted moments with a very strong message.
The Loser's Club face their fears together.
These kids are hilarious together. Somehow both during and after facing Pennywise, they manage to crack the audience up. But it's more than just their humor that endears us to them. Each character is incredibly relatable, and we all feel a connection to at least one of them. Pennywise is terrifying to look at, yes, but the idea of your worst fear haunting you at any and every moment is what truly leaves you shaking. And yet, despite all obstacles, the Loser's Club prevails. How? By uniting, by standing by one another. Each of them are outcasts, but they found more than just friends in each other, they found a family. At its core, the film revolves around this idea that conquering our demons alone is an impossible feat. It's daunting, horrifying, and cripples us with fear. But together, with family and friends at our backs and by our sides, those demons are a little easier to face. You could even say that Pennywise is no more than a symbol for each of our fears. And by facing him, the Loser's Club defeats their fears.
Growing up is no small challenge.
Whether you are a child or an adult, facing your fears is never easy. And when you conquer one, you become stronger. You change, at least in part. And isn't that what every coming of age film is about? Overcoming obstacles, learning lessons, and growing stronger? This film tackles, to one extent or another, many taboo topics. It covers issues and struggles that many of us face. Abuse in many different forms, bullying, first loves, new experiences, overcoming fears, etc. By the end of the film, each member of the Loser's Club is a little different than they were at the beginning of the summer. What began with fright and misery ended with courage and hope, and that's not something many horror movies can boast.
So where does that leave It? Is it a terrifying horror flick or a classic coming of age tale? The truth is somewhere in the middle. Though it's advertised as horror, there's an undeniable light to be found in this film. It finds the perfect balance of horror and hope, and that's exactly what sets it apart from other films, and exactly what makes it so successful.