After enjoying an impressive first weekend at the box office, Andy Muschietti‘s IT aims to continue its money-making dominance in weekend number two. More than just a juggernaut cash-rake, however, the film surpassed expectations for much of its audience, operating as an often funny and touching coming-of-age fantasy adventure in addition to the film’s intense frights and thrills.
Despite the efforts of some, you cannot plausibly deny that Muschietti’s big-screen adaptation is a horror film. However, the continued success of the film can also be credited to the filmmaker’s ambitious vision of operating as more than that. While there are several frightening moments that showcase the viciously demented Pennywise (performed terrifyingly well by Bill Skarsgård) terrorizing children, and in some cases biting off their arm, there’s a Spielbergian magic at play that transcends the capabilities of the genre and appeals to a broader audience of cinema-goers.
Much of that enchantment stems from our love of the self-relatable Losers’ Club. If there has been a greater group of assembled children in a film, I’ve yet to see them. Each individual audience member will find pieces of their younger selves scattered within the seven children, be it in personality, a broken home life, or youth experiences such as imaginative adventures with your friends or falling in love for the first time.
Bill, the leader among his friends, will appeal to those who accepted a great amount of responsibility in the face of change or loss as a child. Beverly, the pillar of love and strength, will be a hero to those who faced broken home lives, terrible parents, and the cruelty of school kids. Richie is literally the loyal friend in every group who just wants to hang out, have fun, and make jokes with his people. Anyone who spent their childhood aware of the dangers of the real world and feared those threats more-so than their carefree friends will relate to Eddie and Stan; and everyone who ever felt like they didn’t belong will relate to Ben and Mike, both outsiders from different walks of life who learn to rely on love and friendship to overcome the extensive obstacles of youth.
Muschietti places these characters and their fractured lives at the forefront of his film, showcasing the strength of each individual kid and highlighting how they shine together. This decision draws comparison to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Goonies, Stand by Me, and more recently, Stranger Things. There are moments of intense horror prevalent throughout the film, but above all, it’s a movie about love, loss, friendship and growing up. Audiences came to be scared, but left genuinely moved by an emotionally affecting story that relates to a life that was once their own- transcending expectations and making IT one of the greatest, most enchanting horror films ever made.