Coulrophobia is defined as an abnormal fear of clowns. From the time I was a kid, I have always suffered from this affliction. I never had a bad experience with a creepy clown at a circus or state fair, just an inert feeling of dread whenever having the misfortune to see one of these foul creatures.
Despite this fear, I have been able to watch movies and TV shows that depict clowns. The It 1990 TV mini-series, starring Tim Curry as Pennywise, further solidified my phobia, but it’s always been a movie that I’ve enjoyed. When the new imagining of the film was announced, I had a morbid curiosity to want to see it. The trailers, TV spots and promotional images were terrifying enough, but seeing the film was a total different experience.
Let’s get one thing straight: It was absolutely terrifying. Bill Skarsgård had big shoes to fill in his portrayal as Pennywise, but he delivered. From start to finish, my body remained so incredibly tense that my joints physically hurt when I stood up to leave the theatre. It’s hard to put into words just how visceral this film was for me, but at one point I yelled “Oh God” out loud and actually had tears in my eyes. I’ve seen a lot of films in theatres, but never have I had such an involuntary response like I had with this one.
Aside from the sheer terror director Andy Muschietti laid out, the film was also littered with great humor and heartfelt interactions between the main cast of youngsters. The Loser’s Club, consisting of characters Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike, Eddie and Stan, were perfectly cast. These kids did such an amazing job in this film. They had the feel of the Stranger Things cast (Richie is played by Finn Wolfhard from the show) mixed in with a dash of the cast of Stand By Me. The banter between these characters was a lot of fun and helped break the tension between scenes featuring Pennywise and his various forms.
I also really enjoyed getting more of each character’s backstories. Whether it was Bev and her sexually abusive father or Mike and the revelation of the death of his parents, each character was very well fleshed out, making me care even more about them. They have all faced extreme hardship in their past, which helps to strengthen their bonds while facing certain death. I found it so powerful and moving to see Bill keep the pursuit of finding his brother, Georgie, and how much he grows throughout the film. The same can be said with each character having to face their fears to ultimately overcome the supernatural obstacle that is Pennywise.
As I reflect on this film, I can’t help but to be extremely excited for the second chapter that will follow. Keeping in tune with the mini-series, the second part will feature adult versions of the main cast, as they have vowed to return to Derry should Pennywise ever return. Though it will be sad to see this cast of kids go, I have every bit of confidence that the adult actors will step in to do an amazing job in part two. Seeing this film makes me want to pick up the book (I actually bought the book off of Amazon a few years ago but it was missing pages).
In my movie reviews, I often talk about major plot points and describe individual scenes, but not for this review. This film is one you need to experience for yourself. If you’ve seen the mini-series, you’ll certainly have an idea of what to expect. However, prepare yourself for something different from what you think you’ll be experiencing. I know I won’t be getting much sleep tonight.