Inspired by Stephen King’s original novel and the 1990 miniseries, 2017’s IT was by far one of the biggest theoretical releases of the year. Starring Bill Skarsgård as the iconic Pennywise, the coming-of-age horror film has to date grossed almost $700 million in box office sales, scaring millions along the way. Set in the 80s, the main plot involves a group of children being hunted by an evil clown (on the surface) who prays on each of their darkest fears. Movies like IT know how to successfully blend character development with memorable shock scenes, offering genuine horror alongside earnest themes of friendship and young love.
Looking for more movies like IT? Here are 8 films to check out while waiting for Stephen King’s IT: Chapter 2!
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1. Super 8
You’ll love J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 if you’re drawn to IT’s themes of young love and friendship amidst other-worldly chaos. Similar to IT, Super 8 centers on a group of children as they face off against a terrifying alien creature. The film is set a little earlier than Stephen King’s novel, but also tells a similar coming-of-age tale. Each child has his / her own backstory, weaving in ideas of group conradory, disbelieving adults, and high stakes drama. Also like IT, Super 8 was a financial success at the box office, garnering $260 million in total sales with wide critical acclaim.
Directed by Josh Trank, Chronicle is a found-footage sci-fi film about a group of high school students who bond together after they stumble across a strange object of unknown origins. This object unleashes powerful superhuman powers onto them, with many unexpected results. Similar to most movies like IT, Chronicle is unafraid to delve into darker territory, especially so when certain characters start abusing their powers for evil-doing. The film was a surprise Hollywood hit, grossing more than $126 million with near-unanimous critical acclaim.
3. Stranger Things
While not a movie per se, we’d be foolish to leave out Netflix’s Stranger Things from our list of movies like IT. Created by the Duffer Brothers, this series focuses on a group of young children as they fight against a supernatural world that threatens to invade our own. Like Stephen King’s IT, Stranger Things’ coming-of-age plot pays heavy thematic homage to the 80s, young love, and friendship. However, unlike IT, the adults here are just as important in investigating and uncovering the many secrets, cover-ups, and threats that drive the story forwards. A must-watch for any IT fan!
4. The Lost Boys
A cult classic by every measure, The Lost Boys tells the story of two brothers who move to California and wind up facing off against a gang of forever-young vampires. Known for its dark humour, the film adheres to longstanding vampire lore (e.g. fear of sunlight, etc.) while also pioneering the now-common image of restless bloodthirsty creatures trapped in teen bodies (and mindsets). Similar to IT, The Lost Boys was a launching pad for many of its young stars, enjoying moderate success on first release before eventually maturing into the horror cult classic it is today. Don’t worry folks! This isn’t Twilight.
5. Stand By Me
OK, so this Stephen King gem doesn’t have much in the way of horror or evil clowns. However, similar to many movies like IT, Stand By Me remains a classic with one of the most memorable coming-of-age stories ever told. Starring Will Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell, the film follows their misadventurous trek to locate the dead body of a young girl. However, their journey is a perilous one as they encounter treacherous bullies and are forced to face their many inner demons. Interestingly, Stephen King himself considers Stand By Me to be the first-ever cinematic adaptation to ever successfully capture the essence of his original work. A must-watch for all IT fans, even without the horror.
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6. It Follows
Not quite the same ‘it’ as Pennywise, but still bloody scary. It Follows is a 2014 film that is part horror, part surrealist symbolism. The plot follows a teenage girl who is stalked by a deadly supernatural entity after a sexual encounter. Much of the film focuses on her attempts to escape this unknown terror, subtly mixing in themes of coming-of-age sex and teen morality. As with many other movies like IT, It Follows has enjoyed tremendous critical acclaim, sitting at a healthy 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
7. The original IT miniseries
By today’s standards, the original 1990 IT miniseries may seem cheesy with its campy Pennywise and dated special effects (especially at the end, oh god). However, fans of 2017’s IT should not miss Tim Curry’s original portrayal of the iconic dancing clown which, frankly, still sends chills down our spines. The plot is largely similar to the more recent reboot, with many scenes and memorable lines fully intact (e.g. the sewer scene, “they all float down here!”, etc.). Definitely worth a watch, if only to help new IT fans draw comparisons between both releases.
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8. Let Me In
Let Me In hits similar notes to Stephen King’s IT, but with a little more intimacy and nuance. Also set in the 80s, the main plot follows a boy, Owen, who meets a mysterious girl, Abby. The two become close friends, but it isn’t long before Owen makes a terrifying discovery about Abby’s true supernatural nature. Similar to most movies like IT, Let It In is primarily a coming-of-age story wrapped in horror overtones, with a heavy emphasis on character development. You may also want to check out the original Swedish version which, in our opinion, trumps this American adaptation.
Know of any more critically acclaimed movies like IT? Leave your suggestions in our comments section below and we’ll add them to this growing list!