Stephen King’s novels are successful just as much because they’re good stories as because they’re scary — indeed, some of his most memorable works (for example: The Stand, the Dark Tower series, and 11/22/63) aren’t really horror novels at all. It, however, stands out for being fucking terrifying. Its antagonist, referred to simply as “It” — something that’s been playing havoc with critics’ sentence structure for 30 years — is one of King’s most frightening creations, an otherworldy creature that feeds on children, shapeshifts at will, and the sight of whose true form, described only as “the deadlights,” is enough to drive people insane. The book is also one of King’s weirdest, especially the notorious pre-teen orgy scene, something explained perhaps by the fact that the author was doing a small South American nation’s worth of cocaine when he wrote it, which also explains why it’s about a bazillion pages long.
All of this means that any adaptation of It has a lot to deal with. It was brought to television as a miniseries in 1990, and that adaptation did a pretty serviceable job: Tim Curry was memorably frightening as It’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown incarnation, the kids who played It’s youthful adversaries were good, the orgy scene was quietly expunged from the script, and all was well. The only real complaint is that the giant spider as which It appeared for the series’s final confrontation is pretty janky — the CGI of the era understandably wasn’t up to the task. Still, it’s a surprise it’s taken It as long as it has to appear on the silver screen, and the good news is that the long-awaited two-part film adaptation, the first part of which is due out in September, looks suitably terrifying. The first trailer appeared yesterday, and hoo boy, take a look:
Fans of the book will be glad to see that the children appear well-cast (Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard, apparently being typecast as “kid to whom supernatural things happen in quaint towns in the 80s,” is in it); the town of Derry looks from the short glimpses we see of it to be a pretty good evocation of the quintessential Stephen King small-ish town in Maine; and, most importantly, the clown is frightening as hell. Good work, everyone.