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It’s coming for you
by Stephen Schaefer September 08, 2017
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The film It combines three things that drive us all to mortal terror: Stephen King, clowns and the fear of losing something in the sewer. The first trailer for It set a single-day record for YouTube views at 197 million views in the first day, suggesting a much darker film than the 1990s miniseries that starred Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown. Andres Muschietti directs a cast of mostly unknown young actors playing the “Losers’ Club” that confronts the ancient evil.

Stephen King once explained in a 2013 interview how he came up with the character of Pennywise, the shape-shifting evil clown from It: “I thought to myself, ‘What scares children more than anything else in the world?’ And the answer was clowns.”

The malevolent clown character has been a movie trope for years and has inspiration in real life, thanks to Illinois-based serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who dressed up as Pogo the clown for children’s birthday parties and events. But during a five-year span in the 1970s, Gacy also sexually assaulted, tortured, then murdered 33 teenage boys before being discovered, tried and executed. He became known as the Killer Clown.

Since then, the once-happy circus figures are often menaces on the big screen, whether they’re possessed dolls or fiendish murderers in their own right. But there’s something about Pennywise that’s so over-the-top to keep him near the top of Scariest Monsters Ever polls.

And now he’s getting a redo, with a new take on King’s It, which hit theatres yesterday. It, a thousand-plus page novel and a high-water mark for King fans, was originally a two-part 1990 TV miniseries about a plague of missing children in Derry, the author’s cursed Maine town that is a fictional stand-in for Bangor.

Tim Curry was the evil clown Pennywise, a shape-shifting spectral presence that embodies a vulnerable kid’s worst nightmare.

The series begins in 1960 as a group of spunky kids, soon known as the Lucky Seven and who are already being bullied by a sadistic older teen, band together to fight their bully and Pennywise.

Then It jumps 30 years to see the now-grown kids reunite to battle yet again that clown and finish him off once and for all.

The film version, while over two hours, focuses exclusively on the first part with the teens. They include Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier and Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special) as the group’s resolute leader Bill Denbrough.

Sweden’s Bill Skarsgard, known for playing a vampire in the Hemlock Grove series and, at 27, the younger brother of Alexander Skarsgard (Tarzan, Pretty Little Lies), gives his Pennywise a haunting hunger.

With a distorted cranium and sad eyes, Pennywise can’t hide his unabashed desire to devour, signalled by the way his lower lip opens and his eyes fixate on his prey. There’s no clowning around here. Let the nightmares begin.


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