The coming of age story of IT spans over two decades, two dimensions, and a whole lot of backstory. But of course, what most audiences remember is the titular antagonist terrorizing the children of Derry. In the latest entry of the canon, Director Andy Muschietti plays with our perceptions of what we knew from the book and the 1990s TV mini-series—and further plays with the payoff. With the addition of new sequences and further development, certain scares are played differently and more gruesome than they were before. So I’ve decided to rank the scariest moments. Consider this piece a warning of what to look out for if you haven’t watched the movie (cover your eyes!) or a beautiful walk down memory lane as far as the terror of IT.
This is bar none one of the scariest moments of all time, much less within the IT canon. Beginning the story with the gruesome death of Bill’s diminutive little brother, Georgie, this moment follows the child through his attempt to reclaim a paper boat. Little does he know that the clown prince, Pennywise, is waiting for him inside of a sewage drain. What follows is a tense, and frightening stand-off between Georgie and Pennywise ending in his eventual (and bloody, depending on which version you are watching) demise. This not only sets the tone for IT that no one is safe—it also shows you the brutality that Pennywise is capable of.
Loser’s Club member Beverly has one of the more tragic backstories. Trapped within a prison of her own home by her overbearing and abusive father, Beverly is susceptible to Pennywise’s schemes because she literally lives in a house of fear. To exemplify this, the devilish clown plays one of his most frightening pranks on her... from the bathroom sink. Starting with a red balloon coming out of the sink, and ending in a geyser of blood that would make Noah blush—Pennywise fills her whole bathroom up with the red stuff. While her father can’t see the blood, highlighting the perceptive power of his illusions. He was aiming to make her snap mentally, and he managed to make us shiver in fear as well in the process.
As explained in Beverly’s case, Pennywise is the master of twisting perception—all in the attempts to make one vulnerable to his possession. One of the most frightening examples of this is his sight gag that has been altered in the 2017 version when the Loser’s Club attempts to find the truth behind the conspiracy behind Pennywise. As they flip through pictures of Bill’s family trips, they land on a still frame of a photo that quickly reveals itself to be Pennywise. What happens next is one of the most memorable (and nightmarish) scenes of IT, and one that die-hard fans and viewers alike didn’t see coming.
The 2017 edition of IT contains a lot of scenes that twist what we knew about the book and the TV mini-series and turns them on their head. One such scene is the exploration into the Neibolt House, where the Losers’ Club goes to confront their fears. This house of horrors is home to one of the movie’s largest set pieces, including the most impressive of them all: Pennywise stuck in a refrigerator. The children open the door to find the clown contorted in at least 100 ways inside of the tiny contraption... only to roll out and straighten himself out (complete with gut-wrenching, bone-breaking noises). It’ll make you want to throw up, but I’m sure that was the intent, anyway.
Clowns, So Many Clowns
Nightmare fuel. Pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. For a movie that plays on most audiences’ fear of clowns—IT takes it further by putting one of its characters in a freaky room FULL of them. Richie, who like the audience is afraid of clowns, is locked in a room within the already creepy Neibolt House that is filled to the brim with clown paraphernalia. In Pennywise’s most devious plot to break his victims down, it seems as though the room gets more packed with the goofy-eyed visage of them until out of nowhere, Pennywise makes his presence known and proceeds to scare the shit out of Richie...and us.