TURN IT OFF

Stephen King’s massive tome of terror It is coming to the big screen this September, care of Andrés Muschietti’s adaptation. It previously came to life via a 1990 ABC miniseries, featuring an iconic performance from Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown. It’ll be hard to fill Curry’s clown shoes, but Bill Skarsgård is going to give it a go.

The first teaser trailer for It arrived this week, so let’s go ahead and break this creepshow down. One thing this trailer makes clear: Muschietti is staying true to the source material while also forging his own path and not simply remaking the miniseries.

Spoilers lie ahead. This is a deep dive.

it movie

The trailer opens with Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) building a paper boat for his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) during a rainstorm. In King’s novel, it’s one whopper of a storm, causing floods all over the town of Derry, Maine. Bill, whom everyone calls Stuttering Bill due to his terrible sutter (which seems to be absent from this film version, or at least this trailer) is sick in bed with the flu. Going stir-crazy from being cooped up inside due to the storm, Georgie finally resolves to take to the stormy streets in his rain slicker, rain be damned. One thing I particularly love about this opening shot in the trailer: it looks gorgeous, thanks to Oldboy and Stoker cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung. As beloved as the 1990 miniseries may be, it very much looks like a TV movie. That’s clearly not the case here.

georgie falls

Here we catch our first glimpse of something decidedly not in the source material: while Georgie runs after his boat, he bangs his head into a public works barricade. Why include this? Perhaps to disorient Georgie? This seems particularly cruel, given the foul fate that’s about to befall him.

Pennywise in the sewer

Into the sewer goes Georgie’s boat, and as he peers down into the open darkness I can practically hear an entire audience screaming, “Oh, hell no!” at the screen. We all know what’s lurking down there. It is, after all, one of the most iconic moments from both King’s novel and the miniseries. There will be a clown in that drain. And not just any clown, but Pennywise, “It” itself. One thing to note: the trailer instantly plays this moment as one of terror, sending Georgie reeling. No doubt anyone spotting a clown in a drain would be a little creeped out, but in King’s novel, Georgie’s reaction isn’t one of instant horror. He is a kid, after all, and kids are more accepting of such odd occurrences.  To quote King’s book: “There was a clown in the stormdrain… The clown held a bunch of balloons, all colors, like gorgeous ripe fruit in one hand. In the other he held George’s newspaper boat. ‘Want your boat, Georgie?’ The clown smiled. Georgie smiled back. He couldn’t help it; it was the kind of smile you just had to answer.” Poor Georgie. He’s a goner.

losers club

Here’s our first look at the Losers Club, riding through Derry on their bikes. This will no doubt recall recent memories of Netflix’s hugely popular King-influenced Stranger Things, and for good reason: Stranger ThingsFinn Wolfhard is one the kids, the motor-mouthed Richie Tozier. These early shots of Derry also establish that the film is set in the 1980s, a departure from the book. In King’s novel, the sections featuring the kids battling It are in the 1950s, while sections with the kids now grown to adults, returning home to do battle with evil once again, are in the ‘80s. Muschietti is not focusing on the adult segments at all in this film, saving them for a sequel.

curfew

“REMEMBER THE CURFEW,” warns a sign from the Derry Police Department, as we hear of the high missing person rate – especially children – that plagues Derry. One of the running motifs in King’s novel is how “infected” the town’s consciousness seems to be by It. Children go missing at an alarming rate in Derry, yet the adults seem conditioned to look the other way. It feeds in cycles: every 27 years, It awakes from its slumber and feeds on the town – again, especially the children – for a period of 12 to 16 months. Then It goes back to sleep again, and the town forgets. Because It wants them to forget.

Ben Balloon

An eerie shot of Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) spotting a balloon – one of It’s calling-cards – in the public library. It’s actually the adult Ben who spots a balloon, and then Pennywise, in the library in the novel, but since this film isn’t involving the adult Losers Club, the script is obviously playing around with the timeline of events. This shot establishes another of the book’s motifs: adults can’t see the same things that kids see. The adults in the library are blissfully unaware of this out-of-place balloon of doom.

Losers Sewer

The Losers take to the sewers – the domain of It. If Muschietti is following the book’s general timeline (and there’s no guarantee that he is), this scene likely comes at the film’s climax, as that’s when the kids finally venture beneath the town to confront It.

The losers talk clowns

“I saw something,” Bill says ominously. “It was this…” “Clown,” interrupts Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), and everyone looks appropriately worried. King’s novel takes its time to introduce us to the kids that make up The Losers Club one by one, and show us how each of them encountered Pennywise, or some other form the shape-shifting creature took, before they came together as a group. One thing to highlight from this trailer: the casting of the kids is great. Granted, this is only a teaser trailer with brief amounts of footage, but all the kids here seem like real kids, not actors playing parts. It adds an authenticity to things. At least, as authentic as a film about a shape-shifting sewer clown can be.

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