Were you thoroughly creeped out by IT over the weekend? So were we – so much so that we can't help but recap these seven brilliantly creepy moments from the new Stephen King movie.
This is a totally spoilerific look at the movie so if you haven't yet been to meet Pennywise, click here to do so. Otherwise read on...
1. "Hiya, Georgie..."
King's enormous novel begins on a famously chilling note as young Georgie Denborough is pulled into a storm drain by Pennywise.
Director Andy Muschietti nails the foreboding encounter of this critical scene, the wide-eyed innocence of Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) contrasted with the manipulative malevolence of Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard).
It's all in the little details from the quietly discordant strings of Benjamin Wallfisch's score to the way the clown's eyes glow yellow when he nears the kill. And the final crescendo of horror is truly startling and gruesome, indicating that Muschietti will remain pleasingly true to King's gorier moments.
This opener forms the backbone of the story, setting up stammering Bill's (Jaeden Lieberher) search for his brother.
2. Everything but the bathroom sink
Pennywise famously embodies the fears of our central characters making up the Losers' Club. Beverly (Sophie Lillis) finds out the hard way in one of the movie's most disturbing sequences, attacked first by strands of her hair and then by a Carrie-esque explosion of blood that splatters across the entire room.
The most chilling thing of all isn't the gore itself but the fact that her abusive dad then breaks into the bathroom and sees... nothing at all. Pennywise only manifests his horror to specific victims, and it's at this point Beverly realises she and the other Losers' Club members are on their own.
3. The Bowers gang
Pennywise doesn't just manifest as our heroes' worst fears. He also represents the underlying rot and darkness of their hometown of Derry, which as depicted by Muschietti is a Spielbergian black hole of resourceful kids and deceitful, cynical adults.
The moment where Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is attacked in full view by the vicious Bowers gang, only for a passing car to turn a blind eye, encapsulates the more troubling sides of the story. Namely, that the adults in the town have learned to turn a blind eye to the evil lurking right in front of their faces. This is a story where horror wears more than just clown makeup.
4. The slide projector
Updating the eerie storybook scene from the 1990 TV version of the story, Muschietti here pulls a real blinder. When researching the history of Derry the Losers realise that the evil pivots around the dilapidated house on Niebolt Street – then Pennywise hijacks their projector...
It's a horribly invasive moment that reinforces the all-seeing impact of Pennywise's grinning terror. We love the little details like Bill Skarsgard's horribly lopsided, buck-toothed smile that hoves into view as the slides proceed – and the toothy jump scare at the end really is like a childhood nightmare come true.
5. Pennywise in the fridge
As befits his shapeshifting nature, many of Pennywise's scenes are embellished with CGI. It's therefore all-the-more impactful when the lanky, limber Bill Skarsgard is allowed to take charge himself, as see in the cover-your-eyes moment where he unfurls himself from a refridgerator to terrorise the stricken Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer).
Is it us or does the performance remind us of the manic glee we saw in Heath Ledger's Joker? It's clear how much Skarsgard has immersed himself in the role and how much fun he's having as the embodiment of relentless evil. From the drooling to the spindly movements to the off-centre eyes, he has redefined the role.
6. Bowers kills his father
Those who've already read the book will have been aware of Pennywise's other abilities. Namely, that he can compel those weak-willed to do his bidding.
Recognising that the Losers' Club are stronger together he wills the vicious bully Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) to murder our heroes, beginning by dispatching his policeman father in one of the film's most upsetting moments of violence. That the clown makes the order whilst appearing on a sing-song TV show surrounded by kids just makes it creepier.
It's a neat dovetailing of the story's supernatural and human themes, although Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman do some compressing in the scenes where Bowers is finally killed by the afflicted Mike (Chosen Jacobs), pushed into Pennywise's well in a dramatic scene. In the book he actually pursues the Losers into the sewers only to barely escape from Pennywise with his life.
Framed by the monster for all the grisly occurences, he's then incarcerated in a lunatic asylum where he remains until his adult years, finally returning to torment the central characters (again ordered by Pennywise) when they're older. It remains to be seen how Dauberman tackles these changes in the planned IT sequel.
7. Pennywise threatens Bill
The final showdown is surely one of the most engrossing in recent memory as the empowered, terrorised pre-teen heroes finally muster up the strength to confront Pennywise in his subterranean domain.
However it all seems lost when he captures leader Bill, tormenting the remaining friends with the knowledge that they can just walk away and live normal lives whilst resigning Bill to his fate.
It's the clearest possible indicator of the deep-seated evil surging through the character, not just a monster who feeds on children but one who looks to divide and conquer, emotionally and psychologically.
Fortunately it falls to smart-alec Richie (Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard) who rallies the group with the final call to arms: "Welcome to the Losers' Club, a**hole!" They are then able to destroy the beast.
Comeuppance doesn't come sweeter – the perfect set-up for part two of the story, when the characters must confront Pennywise again, 27 years later.