Horror fans who have read Stephen King’s massive book “It” or watched the miniseries adaptation from the ’90s know that the evil creature at the center of it is one of the scariest monsters of all time. The titular It is a shape-changing entity that takes the form of children’s greatest fears, but usually appears as Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
The evil clown is incredibly unsettling, but Warner Bros. just revealed what Pennywise is going to look like in the upcoming film adaptation of “It,” as played by Bill Skarsgård, and It is not nearly as scary because it tries too hard.
The new Pennywise debuted via Entertainment Weekly, and instead of a colourful goon, he’s a drab, dirty creature with a demonic expression and Victorian-era clothes. He is clearly evil.
“He is definitely a clown from a different time,” costume designer Janie Bryant told EW.
A lot of thought clearly went into the costume, and the decision to play up the ageless aspect of the monster is interesting, but it’s not as effective as the colourful clown Tim Curry played in the 1990 miniseries.
Clowns are scary. Ronald McDonald should be feared, and the Hamburglar should be praised for trying to take him down. But the new Pennywise misses the point about why they’re scary.
Clowns are full of bright, radiating bold, attention-grabbing colours so it’s hard to ignore them. Their painted faces place them somewhere in the uncanny valley where they almost look human but something is… off. It’s creepy. There’s something behind that big red smile, and their cheerful motives seem like they just have to be sinister under the surface. The new Pennywise has no under the surface. It’s already malicious.
The original Pennywise is unsettling in his normal form, but for the most part he just looks like a normal, slightly creepy clown. It makes it all the scarier when his eyes glow yellow or his teeth suddenly turn into misshapen fangs. The new Pennywise is already starting from a place that’s trying to scare you. There’s no suspense, no time for your fears and suspicions to run amok and build on themselves — you’re just confronted with them.
The new “It” is scheduled for a September 8 release. Maybe it will be really good, although the production has already run into some trouble. “True Detective” director Cary Fukunaga was originally supposed to helm the picture, but he quit and was replaced by Andy Muschietti after he claimed the studio wanted to force him into making a “conventional” horror movie.
A lot of conventional horror movies these days aren’t exactly subtle, and neither is the new — say it with me — darker and edgier Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
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