We’re all looking forward to the hyper-anticipated second chapter to 2017’s IT, which upon its release won fans over and became an instant classic. In just under a month we will bear witness to the darkest elements of Stephen King’s classic opus on fear, and no one is more excited to return to Derry, Maine than I am.
Something a little more than horror
As genre fans, we all know a thing or two about horror. We have our favorites and nit-pick details of the silliest of nuisances found in scary movies. Many consider themselves experts on horror. However, how much do we really know about actual fear? The two share similarities, but are vastly different.
Lovecraft taught us that fear is the oldest emotion known to mankind. It’s a primordial instinct which echoes in the very hollow of our bones, chilling them, icing the nerves, and freezing us in place, like a gorgon’s sudden gaze. Fear does not discriminate between sexes or genders and has no ethnic boundary. It sees under our skins, knowing we each are all the same blood-red color underneath. Fear unites us all, and that’s what we can expect from IT: Chapter II.
IT and the Losers’ Club
It’s fitting that the story spans two polar ends of our lead heroes’ lives. One chronicling the tale of childhood and the innocence inherent therein – a fragile, glassy innocence prematurely shattered by horrors outside time and space.
The other aspect offers us a glimpse into the Losers’ Club well into the prime of their adulthood. Most of them are successful, enjoy plenty of luxuries in life, and have, by most standards, made it to the top.
This veil of success is just as transparent as the glassy innocence that once concealed their childhoods a generation previously. You don’t have to examine them long before you see the apparent dread etching across their transparencies like splintering cracks splitting across crystal prisms. All the security the Losers have hidden themselves behind – barriers that barred the ugliness of past traumas well beyond the sight of their mind’s naked eye – are broken to pieces and they each must stand vulnerable before the thing they all fear(ed). It taught them what fear is. And now the Losers come to the grim realization that fear cannot be outrun and is dangerously patient.
That’s the (quickening) essence of fear and it takes so many different forms. Those little silent lies told to get ahead, for example. Or the skeletons silently stuffed behind locked doors, skeletons that were left behind years and years ago, thought to be gone forever, but in the still of night, when it’s the darkest and you are at your most vulnerable, you hear the dry tap, tap, tapping of ghoulish fingers rapping from behind the closet door.
The abuse endured or caused. The accident that left a scar so deep that it never fully healed. Or something as simple as an unexpected bill. Fear has many forms.
It keeps us up at night, eating away at our minds. Can I forget the past and just move on? What if the monster under my bed really is there?
A new job, a new car, a new marriage, a new kid. Everything is new and that makes it pristine, something virginal; something untouched by the trauma of the past. That’s all ancient history, but it, IT, never forgets. It never forgives. And It remains hungry!
A vast majority of society swallow pills to cope with anxiety. Some lose themselves to drink or drugs. Some burry themselves in their work or their hobbies. Others run to church hoping the sanctity of God’s holy temple will be enough to slam the doors shut in the drooling face of mounting fears. And for a while these things – these distractions – work. They don’t last though. Once you leave work or look up from your projects, your vacation, or the face of your loved ones It is still there just as patient as ever and ready to greet every one of us with a nice big smile.
“Hello,” It says with a playful wave. “Remember me? I remember you. Oh yes, I do. How could I forget?”
Stephen King has personified fear (insanely) perfectly in his nightmarish creation of Pennywise, or It. Naming the story ‘It’ makes it sound so ambiguous. It, or ‘It’ could be anything at all. The darkness after you turn off the light. The scratching sound under your bed. The stranger standing on your porch at 4 am. It is in fact whatever it is you and I fear. It is the substance of things we dare not admit to anyone, something only we know and guard jealously in our hearts.
It knows what we fear, oh yes, It knows all-too-well, and that’s what It feeds on. We don’t feed It our fears, It feeds into what we dread so It can feed on us.
It eats away our days one fretted hour at a time. It feeds off of us like a vampiric parasite leaching away the best years of our lives and locking us in a self-imposed cell. A cell constructed by anxiety, dread, paranoia, isolationism, antisocialism, and, well you get the picture. Many of us suffer from such imprisonment and we’re locked up in ourselves. And it feels as if no matter how far we go and no matter how fast we run we never can escape that hideous power that throws away the key of our liberty – fear.
I understand, probably better than you realize, oh boy do I get it. Or It gets me.
Ancient myths gave people a story of Beowulf who faced the monsters of chaos, destruction, and terror of the day. People found immense comfort in such tales of unfaltering bravery, showing how one single person can rise up to confront a catastrophe everyone else is made to flee from.
That’s the power of a very good story.
That’s why we need the Losers’ Club.
Stephen King understands the power of fear, of It, and presents to us an unlikely band of heroes who begrudgingly return to their Past to face the cackling image of all their traumas. ‘Heroes’ is used very loosely here too. We don’t have armed warriors, or people gifted with magical powers. We are given real-to life men and women who are asked to deal with the terror of their childhoods.
In a scary story about a killer clown, Stephen King gives us a group we can admire. A band to stand with. They’re far from perfect, and that makes them relatable. None of them want to do what is called of them. They’re older but the old trauma has never really gone away. All they really have is each other, and that strength in numbers is enough to face It.
In the same manner, we have our community centered on horror. We may not have the best of friends or an accepting family, but in no way does that mean we’re left alone. At the very least you have your old pal Manic here every time you open an article to read my ramblings.
We have one another, and that keeps the community strong.
So here’s to the Losers, to all the freaks, geeks, and horror creeps out there who weren’t the coolest in school, or the most popular growing up. To the Drive-In Mutants and the weirdos sitting on the fringes of society reading past-issues of Gorezone magazine, trading monster cards with other collectors, and adding more NECA horror guys to the shelf we are our own little club. You’re my Nasties, Manic loves ya and I hope to see you all sitting in a dark theater along-side your fellow Losers and watching the conclusion of It!