Yesterday the first trailer for the new version of Stephen King’s It was unleashed upon the world. Directed by Andrés Muschietti and based on what might be King’s very best novel, it’s set for release on 8 September this year. As for the trailer, well…we’re a little worried as well as pleasingly frightened. Let’s talk about why.
1 Bill and Georgie
This is a story that lives and dies on the bond between its characters. This opening scene is great, as it effortlessly sets up the genuine affection between Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and his younger brother. It’s sweet and genuine and so, so doomed.
2 Shifting Perspective
There are two things we really like here. The first is the way Georgie’s jacket pops against the background but not quite enough. He’s a sweet, innocent kid living in a town that’s essentially a quiet war zone. He’s in trouble the moment we see him he just doesn’t know it quite yet. Look too at how here, as the perspective shifts to the sewer, we don’t see him as a character anymore. We see him as a victim.
Pennywise is the other pillar that the story has to be built on. He’s the one, based on this trailer, we’re worried about. We’ll get into more detail later but here, at least, he really works. The sudden movement, the bone white make up against the black of the storm drain, the inhuman smile. This is a Pennywise we could have nightmares about.
4 Ein Luftballon
This shot scares us more than anything else in the trailer. The incongruously cheery, slightly clotted red of the balloon is bad enough but the more you think about it the scarier it gets. Why is no one else seeing it? Who let it go? How is it moving so purposefully? This is absolutely what we want to see from a movie version of It and we couldn’t be happier.
5 The Losers Club!!!!
Again, this is absolutely what we’re here for. Moving the story to the 1980s makes perfect sense and judging by shots like this, the aesthetic is perfect. Also hi Finn Wolfhard! The Stranger Things star is the only cast member to be cast by both director Andrés Muschietti and predecessor Cary Fukunaga and we can’t wait to see him and the others descend into the terrifying hell of Derry’s sewers. Also the scene where the kids realize they’ve all seen the Clown is straight up chilling.
Speaking of terror, again this is a story that lives and dies based on how genuine the emotions at its core are. This moment is perfect and drives home just how fragile these characters are. They’re normal kids, from untidy, often broken homes who’ve discovered just how unspeakably awful the truth about their town is. Worse still, they’ve also realized that means they have to do something about it. We’d be terrified too.
7 It Was All Going So Well
And this is where it starts to lose us. The kids, like we say, are fragile, normal people. There’s threat enough with what we get here and the scene with the slide projector even drives that home. It’s not even that Pennywise is a monster who lives under the town, it’s that he’s pulling every string in town. The odds are absolutely stacked against them from the get go. So having Pennywise, because that’s who this looks like, turning into a full monster? Actually makes it less frightening. Worse still, it seems to show two warring approaches to horror in the same movie. We’ll demonstrate.
8 This Works
Georgie coming back and the way he curdles into screaming at his brother is utterly terrifying. This is It in a nutshell; the comforting familiarity of these kid’s worlds being used as a weapon against them
9 This Does Not
Pennywise running towards the camera, screaming and shaking his head? Doesn’t. At all. We know this is an incredibly hard book to adapt but the more we think about it the more concerned we are about Pennywise. He’s not a jump-scare monster and to turn him into one massively reduces both the character and the story. Pennywise is insidious, seemingly omnipotent and absolutely, maliciously, terrifying. If he isn’t, then you have a serious problem. If you alternate between terrifying and ‘OOGA BOOGA!’ as this trailer seems to do, then it’s almost as bad.
So, like we said, we’re a little worried. A film like this will only work if it picks a direction with the horrific elements and sticks to that. We don’t envy the filmmakers their task either, as this is a very good, very hard book to adapt. The plan to split the story into a kids and adults POV pair of movies certainly seems to be a good move though and we don’t doubt their talents. But that clown has tricks up his sleeve…
It is released September 2017.