I don't quite know how to properly review a horror film. Horror is not a genre that I know much about, and not one that I enjoy.
Not because I get too scared to watch, I just don't get scared by much. And I'm not trying to make myself seem like a cool motherf**ker either. Jump scares don't scare me. But dread does. Dread, as described in the dictionary, is “anticipate with great apprehension or fear.” And this is what the movie does very well.
Based off the classic Stephen King novel, the story is about a killer clown who terrorizes a group of children in the small town of Derry. The film stars Bill Skarsgård as the titular clown and Jaeden Leiberher as the lead kid of the group. I'll do a quick bit about the acting. All the kids in this film are fantastic, extremely talented and convincing. And Skarsgård is very unnerving as Pennywise the dancing clown. He gives off a mania that's both hilarious and creepy, which all works for his character.
The part that I enjoyed most about this film is how much time is spent on making the kids into fleshed out characters. This allows the film to make you invest in these kids and really fear for them, which is what I meant about dread. When you really care about the characters, the danger that they are put in and the fear they express is way better than cheap jump scares. These characters have goals, arcs, and extremely good actors in their shoes.
Unfortunately this doesn't stop the filmmakers from putting in a bunch of jump scares, although that's pretty much the name of the game at this point. Without them audiences won't show up, unfortunately. Some do play out better than others, but for the most part they're all pretty much par for the course from my limited knowledge. I was honestly scared of the more “real” aspects, like Beverly’s (Sophia Lillis) relationship with her father and the local bully Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) anger management issues.
While there are moments that are genuinely funny and were meant to be, others are not so clear cut. And I think that was intentional. Maybe. I'm not quite sure. The tone shifts at certain moments, and that does unsettle you, which I'm sure is the goal, so yay? I'm gonna say yay. The moments of levity are very much needed, because without them this film would be really depressing.
This movie was a fun time, and was a lot better than I had initially anticipated. Wasn't enough to make me think all horror films could be worth the time, but I definitely will be looking forward to the sequel. This film has a classic feel, and is definitely worth the watch, for non-horror fans as well. Though the movie still scary enough to make people who are used to horror feel unnerved, judging on all my friend’s reactions.