I re-watched the miniseries recently, and it (i.e. IT (i.e. the miniseries based on the book)) is just, just awful. Although I confess I do kinda like Tim Curry as Pennywise.
I can't say I was all that scared by this. Why doesn't Pennywise just kill them? He's gone through history killing all these kids, and all of a sudden he's just gonna decide, out of the f*****g blue, to tease this lot? Is he hungry or not? Predators don't come out of hibernation to play games.
This film, as well as the glut of other 'horror' movies over the last few years, have made me think about what it is that constitutes a 'scary' film. I don't think a whole bunch of jump cuts do it, because it's the cinematic equivalent of hiding behind a door and shout BOO! when someone walks in the room. Lowest common demoninator, really. Also, a bunch of scary faces don't cut it either, because my brain just goes "ooooh - look what they've done with their computers!" And a scary face is nothing without actions to match it. Look at Socrates, for example. Ugly as sin, by all accounts, but not a bad guy, when all is said and done. On the other hand, look at Ted Bundy. He was, by any standard, a handsome man... yet he was quite literally a devil with the ladies.
I know this is a horror and not a melodrama, but I though it was at its best when it focused on the themes, through the relationships between the kids - 'the only thing to fear is fear itself', 'togetherness conquering fear'... all that stuff - it is a potentially powerful social point to be made. The creepiest moment in this movie is the library scene, precisely because it doesnt rely on jump cuts and jarring dissonant sound, and it is much, much more unsettling for it.
A film like My Friend Dahmer is a hundred times creepier than a film like IT, because, well... real! Pennywise has nothing on Jeff. Pennywise does what he does for survival - he is to human kids what a bear is to a salmon. Jeffrey Dahmer did it for sport.