There’s a simple explanation for why the stories of Stephen King have stayed with us: he’s a talented writer who knows how to craft terror with elongated lifespans. Maybe this is why the story of It and the children of Derry resonates so much after all these years. Since the text of the film is about exploring long-term trauma and horrors, it’s only fair for the story to continue grabbing audiences with its sickly pull.
Tim Curry’s campy-yet-terrifying turn as the titular clown in the original made-for-TV Stephen King’s It sent trembles throughout the horror genre as his performance undercut the initially unthreatening appearance of Pennywise. Admittedly, there were minor changes throughout Curry’s interpretation with monstrous fingers and sharper teeth but they were only minor instances in the overall package (We don’t need to talk about the spider thing). But truly horrifying thing about It was It’s design. It was just a clown. A creepy clown character occupied by Tim Curry, luring children into a place where everything floats, but still just a clown.
If you happen by Pennywise in passing down the street, as one is wont to do, you’d know the only alarming thing about It is that It is just a clown.
Here’s a first look at the new interpretation of the villain:
There’s no way to determine whether or not this will work in the full film, but as a first look, it doesn’t instill me with much confidence. Of course this is going to scare children but scaring is one thing. Purposefully luring kids to their demise is another.
I recently watched Jon Watts’ directorial debut Clown and that too boasts an obviously evil clown, so why did that work? Clown shares DNA with It in how it uses the clown monstrosity to explore more tangible horrors. In It, repressed childhood trauma. In Clown, it’s the disturbing descent of a man into pedophilia – it’s a very uncomfortable watch. Clown also contextualizes the ugliness of the ugly clown costume into a point of contention in the actual story.
Actor Bill Skarsgård had this to say about playing the character:
“There’s a childishness to the character, because he’s so closely linked to the kids. The clown is the manifestation of children’s imaginations, so there’s something child-like about that.”
That sounds great! But given the look above it’s clear this monster was designed by adults instead of springing from the minds of children.
For now, this leans too far into straight sinister territory.
We’ll need to wait and see what director Andrés Muschietti has in store for his interpretation when It comes to theaters September 8, 2017. Head over to EW for the full look and interview.
Featured Image: New Line Cinema