Despite being set in 1989, the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘It’ couldn’t feel more timely. Pennywise The Dancing Clown plays upon the fears of his infant prey, transforming into what they are terrified of the most, before then devouring them, and it the process literally creatures a culture of fear. Sound familiar?
Producer Barbara Muschietti, who has worked hand-in-hand with her brother, director Andy Muschietti, on ‘It’, was very much aware of just how resonant the supernatural horror film was to the current climate. In fact, during my recent discussion with Barbara Muschietti she admitted that ‘It’s’ timeliness actually made the adaptation process smoother and swifter, as the pair were eager to capitalize on the film’s resonance.
“When we had the possibility of bringing ‘It’ to the screen in these times - we are living in a culture of fear, and Derry is very much a microcosm of that, so the adaptation process was so swift, because it is such a current story,” Muschietti explained. But while Andy Muschietti, who shot to prominence after the release of 2013’s ‘Mama’, always knew he could tap into his audiences’ fears and terrify them with the film, the most important aspect of ‘It’ was to depict The Losers Club overcoming Pennywise through “unity and the power of imagination.”
“For Andy it was very much about the power of unity and the power of imagination, it wasn’t necessarily the kids solving the issues with the external world and their issues with their parents for instant,” Barbara Muschietti continued. “It was just about them getting together and succeeding over the fear. And that was always very clear.”
Doing ‘It’s’ Losers Club justice was key to Barbara Muschietti because of the impact that Stephen King’s book had on her when she read it in her youth in Argentina. “It was the first time that I’d read characters that were about my age and they were in these perilous adult situations and they were dealing with real tragedy, and learning how to save their world. They were being completely ignored by the adults, and really have such a clear view of what had to be done,” Muschietti recalled.
But while Barbara Muschietti was adamant that ‘It’ marketing managed to connect with an audience due to the culture of fear that’s currently permeating the world, producer Seth Graheme-Smith believes that the film has chimed with so many because of the modern state of pop culture.
“I feel the kismet of the film has less to do with the political culture and more to do with pop culture. Because people are really scared of clowns again. Clown-phobia in the last couple of years has come to the fore again in a big way. And it has had little or nothing to do with us. You see it in ‘American Horror Story’, and in the pranks people pull, which I assure you we had nothing to do with”
“But I think when the trailer came out, and it smashed every record for views, I think people connected just because the film felt different. There are a lot of big movies out there, and I think we just surprised people. It looked so original, and it looked, as we’d hoped, a mix between a coming of age sentimental story and a truly terrifying killer clown story … It hit a nerve.”
You can find out for yourself if ‘It’ manages to hit your nerve when it arrives in cinemas on September 8th.