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"It", the movie that explores our deepest fears

June 24, 2021

The writer Stephen King is known for exploiting his great creative talent of the most twisted forms. Its objective is to create worlds in which terror sneaks into the lives of the protagonists of their fictions.

The latest adaptation of one of his works has recently arrived in cinemas. "It" is a story about childhood , friendship and the way in which adult life breaks violently in the comfort zone exploiting our weaknesses. And he does this by using one of the most interesting psychological resources to create a disturbing atmosphere: the fear of clowns, which can become a real phobia.


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What is the film about?

The history of It is relatively simple. A child disappears during a rainy nightfall while chasing a paper boat dragged by the water of the street, and his brother intends to find him exploring the sewers of the small town in which his family and he live. He will do it accompanied by his friends, all of them socially excluded by the rest of the students (that's why they call them the Losers' band), by a young deschooled and by a teenager stigmatized by their sexuality.

Little by little, this group will discover that the trace of the missing person leads to an entity that takes the form of a clown with grotesque features and that is hidden in the sewer system of the city.


Fear, bullying and a comfort zone

Although the book of the same name by Stephen King has a very complex and nuanced story, this adaptation to the big screen sacrifices part of the original story (or rather, of its first half) in a very dignified way. What does not change is the way in which the aesthetics of the clown serves to express without words what is the nature of terror in It.

Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), the murderous creature referred to in the title of the film, takes the form of a clown for most of the time to be able to approach the children. However, actually is a creature linked more to the demonic than to the world of the circus: has the ability to transform into the most intimate fears of people to make them lose control until they are helpless. In that moment, he feeds on his fear and his flesh.


Now, what makes this adaptation of It special is the way in which it shapes everyday life. In the film, the life of the protagonists, just before the doors of puberty, is captured with its most insignificant details: from their problems to make friends, their ways of having fun and even, and this is important, the way in which They relate to their families.

In both the book and the film, the story of Stephen King consists of introduce the terror element in a context defined by the familiar . A world in which, even if there is violence (as for example in the case of bullying), it occurs within clear limits and that everyone knows. Close to adults and with the police watching. But Pennywise breaks this dynamic, because it breaks the comfort zone of the protagonists, while revealing the darker side of that space that seemed safe.

Friendship as medicine in the face of fear

Something that attracts So much attention is the rawness with which it shows the world of adults. In this film, the trend towards child abuse is very present and clearly overrepresented and there is not a single adult who is characterized by correct morality.

In fact, what most of them have in common is that they try to isolate their children, keep them confined to the domestic and family environment. The degree of overprotection sometimes reaches pathological extremes, and expresses a very clear idea: the fear of entering the adult world, going beyond what would dictate the custom that has been following for years.

Pennywise and his ace in the sleeve

Pennywise, who uses her powers to take advantage of the fears of each of the young people, takes advantage of the deep vulnerability in which these family contexts leave the protagonists. The only thing he has to do is create visions that recreate the deepest fears from each of them. However, it does not take into account that in a context in which families are dysfunctional, these young people can build a second family. They have each other.

That's why Pennywise tries to attack through fear. Phobias have the characteristic of making us lose sight of the rational (literally, they are fears based on situations in which it is unreasonable to fear something). Appeal to the most basic emotions It's something that can divide us, and try to do the same with the Losers group, to capture the members one by one.

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What the clown phobia tells us

Pennywise's aesthetics already tells us a lot about the movie . He is dressed as a timeless clown, with his own clothes from various historical stages, to emphasize that it is something that has been frightening the population since the beginning of the creation of the city. It is not a monster that represents a specific type of fear, but represents fear, in the abstract: it will adopt the form that is relevant to scare humans.

On the other hand, Pennywise presents a mixture of childish and demonic characteristics. What better way to express the break with childhood and the entry into the stage of the risks and uncertainty of adulthood than a clown childish cheekbones and mischievous smile and, at the same time, cracked skin and swollen head , striving to give the appearance of being what you really are not.

For evolutionary psychologists, fear makes sense as a mechanism of protection, to avoid danger without having to stop to question whether we should flee or not. Our nervous system automatically decides that the correct answer is: "run". But sometimes, this same terror causes us to develop fears unnecessarily, as if it were a clown phobia, that which appears in a safe context. Fear can make us lose sight of the fact that all adversity can be faced in company , whether it is from our royal family or not.

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Terror is faced in a group

Maybe adulthood scares, but in the end we always have the opportunity not to face those fears when we are alone, with no one to cover our backs. Yes life gives us reasons to worry , it will be because we have the freedom to look beyond our individual limitations, to resort to our friends, the chosen family.

The clown phobia is an example that what is designed to have fun and make us feel good in a familiar and safe context, many times, we can get to experience it in a more toxic way than the real dangers of life as mature beings.

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A Short History of the Horror Film (1890s - 2010s) (June 2021).


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