by Kevin Muller
The road for Pennywise to have his day in the sun, or lurking around in the sewers, hasn’t been an easy one. For years, the project had “floated” around with no hope of every gracing the silver screen. After his success of the incredible 2014 “True Detective,” Cary Fukanaga soon boarded the project that he aimed for a 2016 release. Cary and the studio constantly clashed over the tone of the Stephen King novel. Cary wanted to do more of a slow burn film, while the studio wanted to, as Cary put it, make a typical jump scare horror film. In a later article, I will review the screenplay that he originally wrote with Chase Palmer that was a dated 2014 script. Soon after his departure, Andres (Andy) Muschetti, stepped into the director’s chair. His 2013 film “Mama” wasn’t my favorite film but he seemed serious on bringing something good to this material.
Our first glimpse of Pennywise came back last summer with a facial shot of the character. Then a few months later an official full body pose came out. The one thing that stuck out about this interpretation of the murderous clown is that the wardrobe looked like it was from another century. In actuality that is true of the novel’s presentation of him. He has been here for hundreds of years and became a clown during the Victorian age. Muschetti had already nailed the look of the character. Some people were and are still iffy about how the costume will look in motion. Well, the poster and trailer have been released and I think we are in for one hell of a ride
So many posters of today, especially in horror movies, are incredibly generic looking. While the poster here isn’t as jaw dropping as the “Alien:Convenant” one, it still gives us a good idea of how Pennywise will be a major threat in the film. Georgie, the main catalyst for the events that transpire in the film, is front and center in the poster. A red balloon is being handed to him by the clown, whose face is seen through it, smiling that sinister grin that is reminiscent of the original photos. The famous words of the novel, “you’ll float too,” are next to the clown. It is a simple poster that sells the job of promoting the main sell of the movie…the clown.
A poster is just a sheet of paper. What many people were waiting for was the some visual sell of the film. The trailer starts off with scenes that are very similar to the original mini-series that starred Tim Curry. You have young Georgie running down a rainy street following his paper made boat. In the original the boat picked up speed before dropping into the sewer. In this new version, poor Georgie knocks his head into a barricade. It is a moment that kind of takes you out of the suspense of his upcoming encounter with the clown. The boat then slips down the drain. The tension is shared by both Georgie and us. For him, he suspects something is down there. For us, it will be our first glance of Pennywise in motion. Pennywise then pops up before the screen goes to black. In the brief moment we do see Pennywise he has a very sinister look to him with his bright yellow eyes sticking out within the darkness of the drain. We don’t hear any dialogue from him but hear a high pitch laugh. Even the laugh sounds dangerously mischievous.
One of the most important aspects of the novel, which the TV mini-series seemed to lightly cover was how big of a character the actual town of Derry is in the story. We get a few brief shots of Derry and the choice that Muschetti made in choosing Chung-hoon- Chung for cinematographer was probably one that will elevate this project. It is a gorgeous film to look at, especially a scene where Pennywise’s face is obscured by a red balloon. This is a cinematic Derry we didn’t see in the original. It looks like the quintessential small American town, even though it was filmed in Canada.
From the brief shots we get of the Loser’s Club interacting with each other, it is enough to see that aspect of the movie is a success. They seem like a group of regular young children thrown into one horrible nightmare. They are all natural in their reactions to the projector scene. For readers of IT, we know how badly the whole experience gets into Stan’s head, but it seems like, based on this teaser, that Eddie is the one is greatly affected by the whole thing. His worrisome look when looking at the house on Neibolt Street added with him fearfully taking a hit of his inhaler as the image of Bill’s mom slowly transforms into Pennywise, shows part of the journey he will go through.
Another point for me to add on how the town will be a part of this story, is the brief shot of Mike looking at a burning building with hands coming out of the sides of the door. It is my favorite shot of the trailer since it really shows that Muschetti is going to dive into how badly Pennywise has affected the town and that his evil has been present for a long time.
The only negative I have with the teaser is the final money shot. To me, it shows why Fukanaga walked away from the project. Will this be the jump scare movie he didn’t want to do or is it just marketing to get people into seats? I am optimistic, so I will go with the latter.
As far as Pennywise is concerned….definitely different. This clown seems to be more animalistic than Curry’s take. The way he runs at Bill is very much like an animal. Bill Skarsgard has mentioned that he sees Pennywise as a predator who loves hunting the children. I definitely saw that in the few seconds we saw him. The makeup and costume definitely look good in motion. He seems like a killer clown doll come to life. I really do like how big his head is, since his origins are alien based. The next trailer should show Pennywise speaking to see how he gets into all their heads . In summary, it looks like Skarsgard is going indeed give us something bone chilling.
So far, it looks like Muschetti is actually going to pull this one off. It definitely looks like a R rated horror film. You can sense the dread in the entire trailer. Of course, this is just the first teaser. It could all sink by the time the movie ends. In a sea of awful to mediocre horror films that come out each year, I think we are in for treat come September.