Clowns are scary. This I know to be true. But what makes them scary? Why do our hearts freeze at the mere sight of these smiling denizens from hell? It’s because they’re hiding something. Underneath the goofy smiles, the pounds of makeup, and broad comedy lies something sinister, and no amount of finely crafted balloon animals can change that.
Stephen King was hip to this when he wrote IT back in the '80s, but Bob Gray -- otherwise known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown -- is merely the tip of a terrifying iceberg. Can you imagine anything scarier than a clown appearing in a storm drain and trying to coax you to come with it? Well, there is something scarier, and that is what the story of IT explores.
In 1990, Tom Holland brought King’s story to life with a television miniseries, and it was just fantastic. It awakened a whole new generation to the truth about clowns and how truly demonic they really are. 27 years later (geez I’m old) and another adaptation of what is perhaps King’s best work is headed our way. Peep the trailer below.
Not much one can say from a 150-second video clip, but it does look promising. I like that they infer almost immediately that there is a problem with the town of Derry itself that seems to go unnoticed by the rest of the civilized world. This of course speaks to a greater power that IT has that goes beyond mere shapeshifting. Pennywise looks sufficiently terrifying, as any good clown should, and of course I am anxious to see more of what Bill Skarsgard has in store for us in terms of performance. But as much as Bob Gray is the center of everyone’s talk about the film, it is not IT that carries the weight of this film.
The leads of this movie are seven children who make up a gang dubbed The Losers Club by some town bullies. They each have had an encounter with IT in some way, shape, or form and have decided that they need to do something about it. They’re on their own, though, and that might be the scariest thing about the story -- the true sense of isolation that these kids have to live with. Nobody can help them. They can’t go to their parents, teachers, or any other adult figure because this particular problem that faces The Losers Club doesn’t exist in the world of adults. Well... doesn’t exist in any kind of noticeable fashion, I should say. The fear you had when you thought something was under your bed but you can’t leave the room to get your parents because it’s obviously going to get you if you do was bottled and sold to folks around the world with the advent of Stephen King’s IT. When I think of IT I’m actually reminded of a Tobe Hooper film called Invaders from Mars, that came out the same year as King’s book. In that film, a young boy is aware that aliens are slowly taking over his town and not a single person believes him. The adults either think he has an overactive imagination or they’ve actually been brainwashed by the aliens. Again, the idea of an innocent being completely defenseless even though he/she is surrounded by help is the true source of horror in stories like these. IT just goes the extra mile and throws a clown in their because IT is a butthead, apparently.
I remain cautiously optimistic about this film (the end of the trailer was a little too jump-scary for my taste) and really want it to succeed, because as much as I loved the '90s miniseries, it wasn’t able to truly delve into the world and nature of IT. As I said before, it’s not just a clown you need to be afraid of in this story.... its spiders as well. Okay, it’s not just spiders and clowns you need to be afraid of either, but they’ll do in a pinch. And to any real clowns out there that might be reading this, please know that some of what I have written here is in jest. I mean, do you really think that I think that all of you are just endless crawling things made of light in disguise? Yes... yes, I do, and you are.