Beep-Beep readers, as some of you may know I’m the resident Stephen King fanboy around these parts and as a few may have seen, the trailer for IT just hit. So I lost my damn mind and wrote a lot about it. Enjoy.
We open on Bill making a paper boat for George, the most noticeable difference in this scene is that Bill is not sick in a bed and their mother is not playing the piano over the whole affair. This is only a small difference, but it’ll be interesting to see how they tackle Bill’s guilt over not accompanying George to sail his boat. Bill being sick makes it reasonable that he wouldn’t have been able to go outside, but if he’s perfectly well then it makes him just kind of a shitty person. He may still be sick and it’s just not emphasised in this part of the trailer. Although, I will give them points for the Gulf Wax box, as it hints they may include the Turtle. If they pull off the Turtle at the end, I’ll be amazed.
Next, we have George sailing his little paper boat down Jackson Street, which is a nice touch from the book. The fact it’s pouring with rain leads to one of theories about the IT creature and it’s connection to water. It lives in a wet place and mostly appears in it’s clown form during times when water is involved. In any event, we see George’s boat disappear down the storm drain and as he goes after it we wait… and wait…. and wait for the appearance of Pennywise. This moment is maybe the most iconic from the TV movie and the book. My quibble here is the new version of Pennywise looks too terriying for any kid to not run from screaming. She appears suddenly and looks terrifying , although George not running could be explained by the fact that Pennywise is psychic and could be luring him George in by some mental trick.
We then get a great establishing shot of Derry, showing it as your typical small town USA. The kids ride their bikes in the street, with Bill riding his beloved bike Silver. Some teenagers, who are presumably Henry Bowers, Belch Huggins, and Victor Criss, hang out by a car, which would make sense because in this version, IMDb lists Henry’s father Crazy Butch Bowers as a police officer rather than a dirt-poor farmer. We see a curfew sign, which is likely from the thick of the murders, as the kids are leaving on the last day of school, when Ben has his run in with the Bowers gang and meets Bill and Eddie for the first time.
The single shot of Patrick Hockstedder’s missing poster gives me so much hope for this remake as we’re finally getting one of the creepier King characters on screen. Those who have read the book with know exactly how malicious this character is, and how he’s up there with Pennywise for King’s most horrific characters.
After that we get our first variation from the novel: we see Ben sitting in the Derry library. This is presumably the adult’s section, but it would look like the the place where he’s writing his love postcard to Beverly Marsh. But he sees one of Pennywise’s balloons, which means Pennywise has her claws in to the kids regularly from a much earlier point this time around. Instead of Ben’s encounter with The Mummy a few weeks earlier – which he acknowledges was his first sight of IT – we see here that IT comes for him much more subtly.
Then we see the Losers Club acting as a group, first entering the sewer pipe, which is likely third act stuff from the film. We also see them talking about Pennywise in the middle of the street. This again is earlier than in the novel. They only discuss the weird event they’ve all seen while building the dam in The Barrens, which is meant to be a sign they’ve all clicked as a group. Here it looks like a smaller collection of them are sharing memories of a clown and not the entities that Pennywise sent in her place. I hope they didn’t lose The Barrens as the Losers Club base because it just felt right that they were on the outskirts of Derry society and town limits. We also get a flash of 29 Neibolt Street which I’ll dork out about further down.
From there we cut to the slide show sequence, this is an update from the book I think works really well, Rather than have Bill flip through a photo album, it encompasses the town of Derry’s sewer system (which is essential to the story) and shows the group bonding. This shows how Pennywise is messing with them at every turn: that she is always watching them. It’s just a good, creepy scene that will hopefully play even better in the final product. The switching to family pictures and slow reveal of Pennywise is just a good scare on film.
Cut to Eddie running presumably from the Leaper outside 29 Neilbolt Street, another part from the book I’m glad made it over to the film. Henry Bowers approaching one of Pennywise’s balloons which hints at his mental state being effected by the clown, which will eventually lead to him becoming a servant of the creature to terrorise the kids both then and later as adults.
The shot of clawed fingers poking through Pennywise’s gloves hints that this scene takes place inside 29 Neibolt Street and is the Were-Clown from the book. The constant tranformation of Pennywise is what scares the kids, and it’s what makes her such a compelling villain, as she is fear incarnate. Neibolt Street is perfectly designed: some may say the house is too overly creepy, but it works with the idea of what kids imagine the “old creepy house” looks like.
Mike’s encounter with Pennywise seems to have changed as well. Rather than the giant bird attack at the former Kitchener Iron Works (which likely couldn’t be done for budget) we get an effectively creepy scene of dead hands poking out from inside a door. This may take a little bit from Stan’s encounter with the dead kids in the Derry Standpipe, but from a few frames it’s hard to tell context. But this shot feels sufficiently creepy, if borrowing slightly from the first issue/episode of The Walking Dead.
Bev’s encounter with IT appears the be very much intact, although it may have amped up a bit. We see her getting hit by fire hose of black slime from the sink rather than a balloon popping and turning into blood. This shot has a very Evil Dead 2 vibe about it, with the sheer amount of disgusting-looking liquid with which the character is being hit.
The final sequence in the trailer is by far the strongest: Bill in the basement, confronted with a ghostly George, who is screaming about him “floating”. I really like how “We all float” is being embraced as the tagline for the film, as it’s creepy in the novel and even creepier in this version of the film. It being screamed and repated by dead Geroge is unnerving enough, but to have Pennywise appear from out of the dank basement water looking like a predatory crocodile and then attacking Bill… it works so well. Could be the editing in the trailer, but the way Pennywise moves is crazed and perfect for scaring the shit out the audience.
Overall, my only gripes about this trailer are that Bill doesn’t stutter. He’s called Stuttering Bill for a reason, in the book he can barely get a few words out with devolving in nearly incomprehensible speech. As someone with a similar impediment, this is what drew me to the character to begin: that he has this problem but was also the leader of this little group. My hope is that it’s rectified in the film proper. My other gripe: Pennywise is way too out in the open. In the book, he sends other things to scare the kids. I get that for budget and licensing reasons they might not have been able to get the Universal Monsters as they are in the book. But it seems to be a bit of a feedback loop that people are scared of clowns because of Pennywise, but in a world where she hasn’t existed in pop culture, would the appearance of a clown still scare people? (Erin’s note: hells to the bells yes, Dan.)
But this trailer is overall pretty darn strong and it says a lot that the moments I liked the most weren’t present in the book at all. Although an unapologetic IT fanboy, this film gives me a lot of hope that the story has been told properly now and I look forward to reviewing the film and book later in the year in my Hail to the King column.