'It' Trailer Breakdown: Going Through The New Footage Frame-By-Frame

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 Things' Finn 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.

the house on neibolt street

Eddie mentioning he saw the clown gives way to a flashback of his encounter at the house on Neibolt Street. The house didn't even make it into the miniseries, but it plays a pretty big part in the book – members of The Losers Club travel there three separate times and have three separate encounters with It. In the book, this sequence being shown in the trailer involves Eddie being chased by a rotting lepper (actually It in disguise), which climbs out of the basement window of the house. The house isn't nearly as run down or Addams Family-looking in the book, but perhaps a plain abandoned house wouldn't have been as effective.

losers slideshow

The Losers gather to examine a slideshow featuring Derry's past. This is a clever update from the book (and miniseries), which presents a similar scenario involving the kids flipping through a scrapbook that Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) got from his father. The slideshow presentation is just more inherently cinematic than watching kids flip through a book, and it also gives the scene a nice Sinister vibe, recalling the endless scenes in that film of Ethan Hawke cycling through crime scene footage.

Eddie inhaler

"It's all connected by the sewers," intones Bill. "That's where It lives!" This causes Eddie to take a nervous blast from his inhaler. Eddie is the runt of the group – the youngest, smallest, and frailest. His frailty is heightened by his domineering mother who has instilled a sense of hypochondria in the boy. Eddie, in fact, doesn't have asthma at all – his mother has just made him think he has it so he'll avoid doing dangerous activities. You know, like chasing monster clowns.

TURN IT OFF

In the source material, the pages of the scrapbook the Losers are perusing start flipping with a mind of their own, before settling on an image that comes to life. Here, it's the slideshow that has a mind of its own, all while Pennywise slowly reveals himself from behind a mane of hair. "Turn it off!" shrieks Bev (Sophia Lillis), and his is the most effective moment in the entire trailer. The sound effects of the flipping projector coupled with the hair-raising music and the general panic from the kids is incredibly unsettling, to the point that it even gives a jaded old horror fan like me goosebumps. If Muschietti can keep this vibe up through the film itself, he'll have something special on his hands. Also interesting: this trailer really teases Pennywise. We only see him in obscurity, which is a wise choice. It's the Jaws approach: the less you see of the monster, the scarier he becomes.

RUN, EDDIE

Cue the montage of shots that all modern trailers feel the need to end with. First we jump back to Eddie's trip to the house on Neibolt Street. You can just see the leper trailing behind him.

Henry Bowers

Next we see Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), a psychotic bully who makes the lives of The Losers Club hell when they're not dealing with Pennywise, spotting one of Pennywise's balloons. Pennywise finds ways to use Bowers as his proxy at times when it's appropriate, and this is likely the first time Henry becomes aware of It and It's power.

Clown Glove

Next, The Losers cower in fear inside the house on Neibolt Street as Pennywise advances on them. In the book, Pennywise takes the shape of a werewolf during this sequence, and that does look like a distinctly werewolfy hand poking out of that clown glove. Worth noting: the werewolf form It takes in the book is inspired by Michael Landon's character in 1957's I Was a Teenage Werewolf. I'm fairly certain they won't be going for that here.

Mike

Here we have proof that Muschietti and company did their homework. This shot, of Mike gasping as he watches hands claw out of a locked, burning room, doesn't exactly happen in the book. Here's how it plays out there: Mike's father recounts a story about his army days. Back then, the African American soldiers were segregated on their own barracks, and they ended up putting together their own nightclub. This riled up the racists folks of Derry, who donned Ku Klux Klan robes one night and burned the club – called The Black Spot – to the ground. Here, It is taking that moment and projecting it as one of Mike's fears, all as the film's clever tagline – "What Are You Afraid Of?" – flashes out. That is how Pennywise operates, after all: he reaches into the minds of his victims and makes their fears a reality.

Bev and the sink

One of the book's most memorable, frightening sequences involves Bev hearing the voices of dead children down in the bathroom sink drain, only to have a fountain of blood come bubbling up – blood that only she can see. Muschietti is cranking things up here, having the Old Faithful of blood sprays coming up out of the sink. You can't get away with showing a lot of blood in non-red band trailers, so the "blood" here has been tinted black, but expect to see it nice and red in the actual film.

Pennywise Balloon

Pennywise hides behind one of his balloons. Again, the film is taking great pains to keep the clown in the shadows.

George is a Creep

Bill spots the ghost of Georgie in the flooded basement of his house. This is another scene that's not quite in the novel, but rather pulled from a collection of thoughts and nightmares Bill has. George screeches "You'll float too!" over and over again, because kids love to repeat themselves. Especially ghost kids.

pennywise sheen

Pennywise peeks up from the flooded basement floor behind Georgie in a shot that recalls Martin Sheen rising up from the water in Apocalypse Now.

pennywise lives

Pennywise comes exploding towards Bill, and again, even though we see more of him he's obscured by the jittery fast-motion movement that recalls the movement of the monster in Muschietti's short horror film (that inspired the feature-length film of the same name) Mama. And once again I can practically hear an entire audience screaming "Oh, hell no!" at the screen.

credits

The credits reveal that Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga are both still credited with the film's screenplay. Fukunaga had been developing It since 2012, only to eventually walk away due to clashes with the studio. I'll be curious to learn how much of his and Palmer's script was kept, and how much was rewritten by Gary Dauberman. Here's some WGA trivia: any time you see multiple writer credits listed with an "&" it means the two writers worked together. When an "and" is used, it means the following writer came on later and worked independently.

king

Another fun bit of trivia: the font being used here is very similar to the font used on the cover of Stephen King's The Stand. That's a nice touch, and it hints at a reverence for King.

All in all, this is a surprisingly effective, creepy trailer. Here's hoping It lives up to the hype when it opens on September 8, 2017.