Stephen King's IT terrorized millions in book form and then when it morphed into a 1990 TV miniseries starring Tim Curry in that iconic greasepaint which would traumatize a whole new generation into being coulrophobes.
Now Bill Skarsgard is playing the creepy shapeshifting clown that awakens whenever it has an appetite for the flesh of children (around every 27 years), some of whom come back as phantoms with their ghostly voices echoing through the sewers that are their graveyard. The suspense sucks you in to the point that you won't want to walk around at night because any door or drawer or cupboard could just burst open with a grinning clown face.
Turning on all the lights and not watching this in or anywhere near an abandoned basement is advised, unless you're really the sort of masochist who likes bolting up in bed at 3 a.m. screaming loud enough to scare the neighbors.
Just look at that cruelly painted smile and tell me this trailer isn't the ultimate nightmare fodder.
Suburbia can be deceptive.
"When you're a kid, you think the universe revolves around you," says Bill Denbrough as he and the rest of the Losers Club bike through a sleepy summer in Derry. The way they leap off a cliff into the lake as if there is nothing more dangerous around than maybe a mosquito is almost ominous — because you know what's coming.
When you have that feeling ...
Bill's face speaks volumes about something not being right in that green water, and it isn't the Creature from the Black Lagoon in a rubber mask. His reflection is especially eerie even in the midafternoon sun.
Is that really marker?
"You think you'll always be protected and cared for," continues Bill, whose voice doesn't sound entirely believing of the words coming out of his mouth. That crude V on his friend's cast looks like it was hastily swiped by a bloody finger. Oh, the foreshadowing.
The crimewave begins.
That first MISSING sign won't be the last. Patrick Hocksetter is the local bully who torments stray animals, so you'd think the Losers Club would be throwing a party — but this is less about Patrick and more about what abducted him.
How to stay alive.
Just the fact that there's a curfew says something is on the loose after dark, but what kid in junior high is possibly going to pay attention to another adult measure to dampen their firecrackers and their fun? You just know there's no way everyone under 18 is going to just stay in their rooms playing Nintendo all night.
Back in the '80s when there were no such things as smartphones and i-gadgets, making your little brother a paper boat to sail in the gutters on a rainy day was the next best thing. At least Ben thinks it is. Someone — or something — is thinking otherwise.
Even stranger things.
Recognize Richie? It's Finn Wolfhard, aka Michael from Stranger Things. The bullies in the hallway are nothing compared to the what he's soon going to have to contend with.
There's almost nothing creepy about this vintage Pontiac until you zero in on the backseat and realize you're seeing the red balloon of death.
It's watching you.
Evil emerges from the sewer in the form of creepy clown half-obscured by the shadows. How Georgie doesn't just shriek at the sight of that thing, never mind how he doesn't bolt when he hears its creepy child-killer voice as it tantalizingly holds out the boat, is beyond me.
It's inhuman ...
"My grandfather thinks this town is cursed." You got that right, Mike. How can you possibly think you're going to get milk and cookies in a gnarly old house that looks like it could eat you alive?
Book nerd note: This is exactly how I imagined that haunted house in The Dark Tower. But that's an entirely different horror.
... infernal ...
Ben has opened a book that has never be closed after looking into Derry's gruesome history. Is that Easter Explosion Kills 88 Children? Five Massacred in Broad Daylight? Note to self: you better get out of this place before this place swallows you.
Don't follow the balloon.
That's a familiar face, except it appears in a Victorian engraving. Either someone is hallucinating or this thing has been around for much longer than just an '80s summer.
You'll never look at a library the same way again.
After flipping through too many homicidal newspaper records, Ben decides he's had enough waking nightmares for one day and slams the book shut. He's hardly even made it through half. You can only wonder what else is hiding in there that cannot be unseen.
Be afraid of the dark.
Something is going to lunge out of the shadows that Ben is willingly braving.
You glimpse the last dying rays of sunlight and hear a sinister drip, drip, drip as Bill makes his way downstairs. There is no way the source of that dripping is just a broken faucet.
There is no such thing as a friendly ghost.
Streaking through the shadows with childlike excitement is the apparition of a boy in a yellow raincoat, the same one who was so ecstatic to sail a paper boat until it sank in the sewer …
That really is what you think you're seeing.
… and the sight of who he knows can't possibly be anyone else is enough to make Ben's LEGO sculpture slip from his fingers and shatter into green plastic chaos on the floor.
You'll float too.
Things in a dark basement will play mind games with you, except this time it's not the shadow of a plastic Santa or a decades-old moldering sofa trying to convince you it's a specter. This time it really is the ghost of your little brother. As if that wasn't enough, he's urging, in the most terrifying innocent voice possible, "Bill, if you'll come with me, you'll float too."
Evil rises from the sewer.
This scene makes Swamp Thing look absolutely tame. Of course the monster clown was using Georgie as bait, because how else would he get an otherwise suspicious kid to follow him into the eldritch depths?
This is not a hallucination.
Sometimes it's a relief when you realize you've been seeing things and somehow escaped falling into the clutches of the men in the white coats ... until your friend speaks up that he saw the clown, too. The clown.
Playtime has a whole new meaning.
You know this is going to be the type of movie in which the clown is going to pop out from everywhere like some warped Jack-in-the-Box, with those dirty white gloves grabbing Beverly around the neck.
Bill fishes a missing girl's shoe from the cesspool of the sewer to his own voiceover of "What if another Georgie goes missing? One of us?" Too bad his flashlight probably doesn't vaporize evil entities.
Look who's lurking.
Come on. You were expecting this.
Adults don't believe in demons.
Of course no one believes Ben. Because he's a kid, and kids can have wild imaginations that turn a sewer into the lair of something so evil that even H.P. Lovecraft would probably have issues describing it. Except he really is seeing a Lovecraftian lair and all the disbelieving adults can do is shrug him off. Maybe it's those thick '80s glasses that keep them from being able to see the evil. Why should they care? It eats children, not grown-ups. Maybe.
As if the clown thing isn't enough, it shapeshifts.
Someone is looking suspiciously werewolf-ish right here.
Book nerd note: In the novel, IT takes on myriad forms, from a werewolf to Frankenstein's monster, depending on what the victim is afraid of.
This is no Halloween haunted house.
Entering the house of doom. Everything about it is just saturated in an evil so viscous and impenetrable that it is impossible for even sunlight to break through its deep shadows.
She floats, too.
Could this be the girl with the missing shoe?
Step right up to the horror show.
Claws like that just do not belong on a clown, but when the clown is actually some sort of dread spirit rising up from the murk to feast on children every 27 years, it kind of makes sense. Either that or he's morphing into a werewolf.
Nothing is ever really dead.
Since they aren't covered in white gloves, are those the hands of something (un)dead grasping at Ben's neck from behind?
The terror sees you, but only you see it.
Blood that only Beverly can see gushes from the sink. That is not how any teenage girl imagines getting a facial.
Book nerd note: King establishes an ongoing thing of kids being able to see things adults are blind to, like the blood and the red balloon.
There is a church of clownism.
This clown-infested room would make for the creepiest haunted house ever. Whatever that thing is hiding under the sheet, I don't want to know.
You know what they say about dolls.
There is one particular clown among those decrepit dolls who turns out to be a little more animated.
IT opens September 8.