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Is there any movie genre more thrilling than horror? These films have the ability to keep us on the edge of our seats at one point while watching through the cracks of our fingers the next. They have the power of keeping us up at night, causing fully grown adults to invest in night lights. They are to blame for getting our bedsheets soaked in cold sweat. Yet despite the thrill of it all, horror movies aren’t for everyone. A good chunk of people don’t want to pee their pants because of what’s going down on-screen. 

Because of this, horror movies have to deliver more than just freights to gain a sizable audience. These films have to have interesting characters with riveting dialogue. They require eye-catching cinematography alongside a memorable soundtrack. They demand audiences to grow fond of these characters so that they’ll actually care whether they live or die in the end. So which horror movie successfully manages to do all these things?

Horror movie skull
Horror movie skull | JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

 ‘IT’ (2017) based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel

If anyone knows how to write a frightening story, it’s the master of horror himself. Stephen King says in his book On Writing, that the key to good story-telling (in any genre) is to put the characters first before anything else. In an interview with Movieclips coming soon, King discusses the 2017 film version of It.

He says, “It’s something audiences can relate to. And they’re gonna like the characters. Because to me, it’s all about characters. If you like the characters, you care, and then the scares generally work.” 

King adds, “One of the things that I wanted to do in the novel, and all of my novels, is to create characters who are fundamentally decent. That way, you don’t want them to be spam in a cabin. You want them to live, and you want them to win. I think that translates to the film, and that’s one of the reasons I really like this movie.”  

Clearly, King knows what he’s talking about. Why? Because It has a lifetime domestic gross of $327.5 million. 

The Losers’ Club is what separates this movie from other horror films

Anyone who watches It can’t deny how lovable the characters are. The Losers’ Club, consisting of Derry’s most bullied band of misfits, is charming in every way. This group of friends has layers of complexities amongst their close-knit circle, from love triangles to unrequited feelings, as well as a bond that stands the test of time. The fact that we get to see their friendship blossom into adulthood only increases our adoration for these characters. Plus, the chemistry between The Losers’ Club members is unlike any other: Their banter is simply fun

Meanwhile, the majority of lesser horror movies fail to flesh out their protagonists and instead concentrate on how to best freak out their audiences. King famously dislikes Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel The Shining because of that very reason. He feels as though the characters in Kubrick’s movie have “no arc” and are presented like “screaming dishrags” as opposed to human beings.

The Losers’ Club, on the other hand, is chock-full of emotional arcs.

Pennywise is more than your average monster

Another layer of what makes It the highest-grossing horror movie of all time is because the villain is so complex. Pennywise is more than just an evil clown who hangs out in the sewer. He is more than a creepy monster that threatens the people of Derry via red balloon. The character is so much more than that because he takes the form of all the Losers’ biggest fears.

For Beverly Marsh, Pennywise takes the form of her abusive father. In Richie Tozier’s case, the clown haunts him for coming to terms with his sexuality in a widely homophobic town. For Ben Hanscom, Pennywise underscores his worst fear that he is unlovable due to his weight.

Being cast aside by society is something that we can all relate to in some form. Perhaps this is why the movie has such a passionate response.  


Stephen King: Which Character From His Novels Would He Least Want to Quarantine With?

King puts it best, saying, “The entity that is Pennywise focuses on whatever that particular child fears the most.”

Because of all these brilliant elements, it’s pretty clear why It is the highest-grossing horror movie of all time.