Stephen King’s big screen adaptation of It may be the scariest movie mainstream audiences will see in 2017. From its creepy antagonist, a murderous clown who drags his child victims into the sewer, to the thugs who populate the city of derry, there are many reasons to watch this movie through your fingers. but the scariest moment of them all is actually the very first scene of the movie. Georgie’s death in the 2017 remake is violent, graphic, and downright terrifying, and there’s a very specific reason for this, according to the film’s director, Andy Muschietti.
“From a technical point of view, it’s the presentation of the monster,” he says in a bungalow at the beverly hilton during the film’s press day in los angeles. “You can’t contain the intensity if you want to scare the audience. It was an investment. You have to hit them hard to make the monster scary for the rest of the movie, even when it’s not there.”
There will be spoilers for the movie and the book to follow. For those unfamiliar with the scene from the 1000+ page novel or the 1990 miniseries starring tim curry, this is the Premise: It’s a stormy afternoon in Derry, Maine. georgie’s older brother, bill, is sick with the flu, so to keep his little brother entertained, he builds a paper boat for her to float down the watery sidewalk. But when Georgie’s boat falls into the sewer, Pennywise, the killer clown who lives in the sewer, catches it. he taunts georgie to take it off, and when he finally tries, pennywise reaches out and rips georgie’s arm off. In some versions, Georgie bleeds to death by the sewer. But in the 2017 iteration, Georgie tries to crawl from her, but Pennywise drags her into the sewer and is never seen again. But since her body is missing, she prompts older brother Bill to search for it.
Watching a child die on screen is never an easy pill to swallow, but the complete lack of censorship in georgie’s death immediately sets the film’s sinister tone. and it is clear that in 2017 anything goes.
“It’s the scariest part because it’s the most graphic, very intense and macabre, so to speak,” says the Argentine director. “If it wasn’t for that scene, you wouldn’t have the tension that you have when Pennywise isn’t around.”
Although georgie’s death is arguably the most horrifying moment of the big screen iteration, it’s not the only moment that can make audiences scream. The entire movie, like the book, is full of scary moments.
“I wanted it to be as close to the spirit of the book as possible,” he says. “If this hadn’t been conceived as an r-rated movie, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Part of creating a world that audiences instantly feared was casting the right person to play a dime, since a creepy villain was of the utmost importance. Though without makeup, prosthetics, or costume, 27-year-old Bill Skarsgård looks like a Hollywood heartthrob, transforming into the killer clown with utter believability, making Georgie’s encounter with the creature all the more terrifying.
“He’s really, like, really good,” says Barbara Muschietti, the film’s producer and Andy’s sister.
“but it can get weird in a second,” adds andy. “He’s cute, he’s innocent, he has childish traits, but he can turn that into something evil.”
juxtaposed to georgie’s childlike curiosity and vulnerability, the monster’s physical appearance, both childlike and sinister, is indeed a spooky cocktail. While audiences may be mourning George’s death long after he leaves the theater, the Muschiettis’ goal of terrifying audiences from the opening scene onward will no doubt be achieved.