Is The Movie IT Too Scary For A 13-Year-Old?
Been There, Done That
Read the book, saw the miniseries, got the T-shirt (okay, so I didn’t really have the T-shirt). IT: Chapter One (I like to capitalize “IT” in writing when referring to the story since “it” can be very confusing in conversation. “How is it?” “The movie?” “No, dinner.”) came out September 8th. On IMDB, IT gets pretty high ratings for any genre, but especially for a horror movie: 8 out of 10 stars. IT: Chapter Two is due out September 6th, 2019.
Stephen King Was The Man
I was a sophomore or junior in high school when I read IT, Stephen King’s 18th novel under the Stephen King name (as opposed to King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman). I had read several of his books by that time. Of his books I’ve read, favorites include IT (because of reasons I’ll explain), The Dead Zone, The Stand, and some of King’s short story collections, which included a lot of titles that were made into movies like Stand By Me, Cat’s Eye (3 of the short stories), The Mist…it’s kind of crazy how many of his stories have been made into movies. Coincidentally, around the time I got married and had a kid (1992-ish), I stopped reading books for fun. You know, books that weren’t self-help books.
The Marriage of Music and Imagination
IT came out in September of 1986, but I know I didn’t read it until at least the end of 1987 because my soundtrack for reading the book was Pink Floyd, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (their 13th album, released September 7, 1987). I listened to it as a unit, which was a really cool experience. Just started the record (that I first recorded onto cassette tape) and kept it on repeat while reading all 1,138 pages, hardcover (IT weighed like, 8 pounds. It could have killed a small animal with the misfortune to be under a falling IT).
I didn’t marry those two things on purpose, and I hadn’t done it before or since, but it was So. Perfect. I get a particularly more complicated feeling when I hear those Pink Floyd songs, with the mood created in my mind for the story. You know, like how a movie’s music can make or break it, as George Lucas found out with Star Wars.
Book & Miniseries
IT, the book, was a trip, to put it mildly. And by the way, quite a bit more graphic if you were thinking of letting your 13-year-old read it. In 1990 they released a made-for-TV miniseries. Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown? Epic. IT wasn’t terrible, but could have been better, as even the director later said himself. After making the movie with someone else’s script, Tommy Lee Wallace finally went back and read the novel and admitted they could have done better. Seems to me, reading the novel you were going to make a movie out of would always be the first place to start.
Stranger Things Than IT?
My 13-year-old daughter Rachel was super-excited to see the movie, more because Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things plays one of the kids, but as a Stephen King and horror fan in general, I was too. Last year we introduced Rachel to some of our favorite, not-too-scary movies (The Village, Poltergeist (1982), The Sixth Sense). This year, she was ready for Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981), and started begging us to take her to IT in the theater. Her friends have already seen it. The movie.
I purposely didn’t read anything about the movie because I wanted to make my sometimes-lacking memory work for me this time, so I could be surprised. And I was! Well mostly because I didn’t realize there would be a “Chapter Two.” But it all made sense when my memory reminded me we will see these children as adults in the next installment. The miniseries was also a 2-parter.
So How Was IT?
I thought the movie was pretty scary, but not overly scary. It is super-creepy, the special effects are amazing, and if you have a fear of clowns or dark places that you don’t really want to explore, then I say skip it. If you like a little hair-raising from time to time, this is a good movie that makes you care about the characters, and be terrified for them as they face their own worst fears in a fun, 1980s setting. Oh, and there are a LOT of swears, mostly thanks to Finn Wolfhard’s character. I really liked this movie and I will go see the sequel when it comes out in nearly 2 years.
I give it a solid 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
My husband, Rob, never saw the TV movie or read the book and didn’t really know anything going in. He thought the jump scares were a bit predictable, but the movie was entertaining, especially if you’re in the mood for it. Disappointed to figure out it’s a 2-parter (or, Rob’s convinced it has to be a trilogy because “that’s just what they do these days”). We’ll drag him to IT: Chapter Two in 2 years, for sure.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Rachel thought it was scary, exciting, fun, and awesome. She also thought (like I did) that although it was intense and pretty gross at times, it wasn’t too scary. She agreed that anyone who doesn’t like clowns probably should not see this movie. Her favorite part? Finn Wolfhard, although she really liked the whole cast of kids. I asked if he was the only reason she wanted to see it and she said no, but he was definitely one of the reasons (mom translates: “because he’s SOOO dreamy”).
She loved it and would give it 6 out of 5 stars if she could.
I personally think you’ll have to decide if your young teenager is ready, perhaps based on what kind of scary movies they’ve seen so far, and if things (stress and worries) in general keep them up at night. No need to add to it if you have an already-nervous teen.
Rachel is not allowed to read the book yet (if ever), by the way.
Read my article about Stephen King’s Alter-Ego Richard Bachman
Read my review of the new Poltergeist (2015)
Read my article What Was the First Horror/Slasher Film?
Stephen King is one of my idols. I’ve read every single one of his novels. He is much more diverse than just horror stories, but his scray stories are horrifying. I love his traditional books like The Stand. Stories like this show just how smart he really is.