I want to begin with that I really don’t like clowns, my fear of clowns borders nearly on coulrophobia.
When you bring up clowns in media, two of the main movies people think of are Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Stephen King’s IT. Of course, people who’ve never read the book remember the miniseries from the 90’s. I never got a chance to see the miniseries as I was too young to see it. I only happened to stumble on Killer Klowns from Outer Space by accident and it made me terrified of clowns (and dumpsters for a few short years as well.) By the time I had been told about IT, both the miniseries and the book, I shied away from it because of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. I’ve seen the trailer for the original IT and saw Tim Curry’s rendition of Pennywise and it honestly scared me. Truly scared me.
When I first saw the trailer for the new movie I thought it looked comical. Skarsgard’s version of Pennywise/IT looked hilarious to me and not all like a proper clown. That attitude changed when I finally saw the movie itself. Right off the bat the movie was intense. It lures you in by a not-so-scary beginning. A scene that has become iconic in horror movies, Georgie chasing his paper boat down the street and then losing it in the drain. Pennywise’s appearance and mannerisms are a stark difference than his predecessor’s. More childlike and yet even more sinister, IT tries to make you lower your guard by acting like a silly dancing clown. Then you’re reminded that he’s not so innocent when he chews Georgie’s arm off and drags him into the storm drain.
I don’t like giving spoilers for movies and this is one movie I am 100% about because it scared me so bad. Many times, it played on my own fears and showed them right on screen. Indeed, it appears this movie had a little bit of everyone’s fears whether it’s the dark (or more not knowing what waits for you in the dark), putrid faces barely hanging on to the muscle, or the fear that one day you could be walking home and something attacks you. Fear is the root of this whole movie. Fear is what gives IT strength and what IT feeds off of. Fear is also how IT controls the environment around it. I’ve heard many theories that IT can make people forget what happens in the one to two years IT is awake to feed. IT makes you forget that children go missing but I don’t think it has that power. My own theory is IT amplifies you wanting to forget. In the opening scene when we see Georgie running after his boat there is a woman on her porch struggling to fix her screen. To roll it up so the storm doesn’t damage it. She sees Georgie kneeling at the storm drain. After Pennywise bites off Georgie’s arm we see him crawling away bleeding all over the street, then Pennywise drags Georgie into the sewers with him and we hear him crying out for his older brother. The woman looks out at the street and sees the blood being washed away and no Georgie at the drain. Instead of going to investigate she simply stares, standing still, then walks away like nothing even happened.
IT makes people want to forget. Generations forget because they think their child could never go missing like that and so people forget with a little extra help from IT. When I went to see it the movie I was expecting a lot of jump scares as many horror movies nowadays seem to go more in that direction than anything else. What made IT stand out in my mind is how it did its terrifying scenes. You see it coming. You know it’s coming but still the moment Pennywise/IT attacks his victim still makes you jump and scream in your seat. The voice in the back of your head tells you the monster is coming but still you expect it not too because it’s so obvious. Then you’re left screaming in terror as it gets its victim.
The movie isn’t all intense fear and screaming. There are some funny moments and dialogue within it, mostly from the heroes of The Losers Club. One scene during the 4th of July while they talk about Pennywise and what’s drawing it and feeding it, we see Ritchie attempting to play a horn while the horn’s owner looks on in annoyance and tries to wrestle it from Ritchie. It was a light hearted, honestly funny moment in the movie until it went right back to reminding you that this is supposed to be a horror movie about a demonic clown/otherworldly murder figure.
I have heard in an interview that if the movie had does well that the sequel would be made. It seems we’ll be seeing more out of Andy Muschietti because in the opening weekend, IT grossed over 245 million dollars in North America against a budget of 35 million. Chapter Two is slated to come out in the next few years and I eagerly await to see what will happen to The Losers Club. There are many theories on who they’ll get to play the adult versions of The Losers Club, but none concrete. Two of the original cast from the miniseries have said that if asked they would be more than willing to come back and reprise their roles. After seeing how Chapter One was made, I’m left wondering what the writers and director will give us. I wonder if they will keep going back to the original source material. Indeed, there is so much to pull from the book as the book itself has so much horror contained in it. So much more to frighten us with…or will they deviate from the book just a bit.
There’s too much about this movie for me to cover. This is such a wide-open movie in its writing and scare factor that it’s hard for me to put it in words. The movie scared me and it stayed with me for days afterwards. I hope that Chapter Two somehow tops Chapter One in every way possible, from writing to directing to the cast and visuals. I want that same fear I felt in Chapter One to be there in Chapter Two.