My children, historically speaking (and spoken with all the love and genuine affection in the world), are giant chickens. They've bailed on Disney movies. They run from TV commercials with dramatic music. The mere presence of my Walking Dead comic compendiums on our bookshelf continues to upset them to this day, and they've never even peeked at the pages inside.
Every movie or TV show this side of Nick Jr. is met with the same running commentary: Is it scary? Who's the bad guy? Does anyone die? Is there a monster? Who is that? Does something bad happen? You have to tell me before something bad happens, okay?
Some of this is entirely our fault, of course, We've made a few bad calls along the way (most notably Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, That One Scene In Force Awakens You Know The One I'm Talking About, etc.) and they don't necessarily trust our assurances that no, really, this movie isn't scary, it's just exciting.
But still. Guys. It's Coco! It's Pixar! The only people here who will be sobbing, emotionally traumatized messes by the end will be the adults AND WE ALL KNOW IT.
(They enjoyed Coco a lot, in the end. Though they did practically slither to the floor into three little agony puddles during that trickstery 22-minute Frozen "short," yelling NO MORE STOP OMG at the screen every time a character broke out into yet another song.)
Noah is pretty obsessed with all those jump-scare "horror" games The Kids Today Are Into, but he also still refuses to acknowledge any installment of Harry Potter after Azkaban and has skipped both Rogue One and Last Jedi because we couldn't promise him happy endings. Ezra won't play anything with higher stakes than Diner Dash and Ike still secretly prefers a few hours alone with PBS Kids. They are all super-prudish about curse words. (Which is super ironic, given how much bad-role-model shit I've fucking gotten over the years for my trash-ass language here),
So it was a bit strange when all three of them collectively became 100% obsessed with It.
They saw a trailer for the new movie and had nightmares for a solid week, yet emerged newly emboldened and fascinated rather than permanently terrified. The movie appears to be something of a badge of honor at the elementary school, since it was something no one was officially supposed to see, and yet a couple kids managed to, thanks to either incredibly permissive parents or incredibly sneaky older siblings.
(And then more than a few kids claimed to have seen it, but given the super wobbly plot descriptions they passed along, I'm guessing they either gleaned their knowledge off YouTube fan videos or spent most of the movie hidden behind the couch.)
I was about Noah's age when the old miniseries came out, and remember It holding the exact same draw over me and my peers. I was 100% absolutely NOT allowed to watch, areyouevenkiddingmeyounglady, but have vivid memories of listening to my much cooler classmates hold court about demonic killer clowns in the sewers while scaring the living daylights out of the rest of us.
(I was allowed to read a series of Christian books about demon possession and Satan taking over the earth that completely fucked my shit up for a good decade, though. Discuss!)
I have since read the book and seen both the old miniseries and the new movie (because I am a grown-ass adult who owns the right to fuck my own shit up), so I attempted to de-mystify the whole It phenomenon for them, in measured, age-appropriate doses. But Noah decided he really wanted to see one of the movies. I offered up Stranger Things instead, as a bit of a gateway-to-semi-scary-things. (This is a kid who made us walk out of The Lion King not that long ago, after all.)
We really, REALLY enjoyed re-watching Stranger Things with him -- Ezra would have no part of it but liked hearing episode recaps, while Ike occasionally would join us, or at least watch from the hallway landing while requesting a running head start for anything "too" scary. I bought Noah a couple cool/funny demogorgon shirts and he even made some new friends at school by finally extending his circle of conversation topics beyond his favorite video games.
But then he did not really have a good time with season 2, and some nightmares and sleeping trouble cropped up, so I told him no, I don't think he's ready to watch It yet.
I thought that was the end of it (and the end of It), until he came home from an outing with his father, with a new bargain. And a new book.
If he reads the book, the entire book, he can watch one of the movie versions. Or maybe even both of them.
(For the record, I was NOT consulted on this AT ALL, and I immediately reminded Jason that the book contains a certain controversial scene that no one from either movie production would touch with a 10-foot pole, so really? REALLY?)
(He was like, oh right. I forgot about that part. Whoops. But look! He's reading!)
While I'm still not entirely on-board with any of this, I admit making a similar deal with my parents at his age. In my case, I read the entire unabridged version of Les Miserables in exchange for tickets to the musical on Broadway.
And before you think I agreed because I was just that into high-minded historical French fiction about war and romance and oppression, let me be honest and admit that one of my friends saw the show and told me there was a whole song about prostitutes, so. Yeah.