Coulrophobia is a recently developed word coined specifically to describe a fear of clowns. Now I’ve spent most of my life being a little afraid of clowns. Not so much a serious phobia, but more of a general dislike and unease at the concept of them. At the least they’re not funny and at the worst they’re downright creepy.
You’ve all seen a clown at some point that’s given you a shiver, haven’t you? Exactly.
Anyway, this weekend I challenged myself to do something I thought I’d never do: I went to see a horror movie about a terrifying clown (I’ve also been really bad with horror movies and jump-scares traditionally). That’s right. I paid my money and put my ass in a seat in front of the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘IT’.
And you know what? I actually really enjoyed it.
I didn’t think it would be possible, given my predilection for avoiding horror films about monstrous clowns, but it was genuinely enjoyable. Scary and disturbing for the most part, but with some incredible performances and effects. I especially liked how disgusting and creepy Bill Skarsgard is as Pennywise whilst also being able to bounce his interactions between childishly playful and horribly menacing. The young actors were brilliant too, being wonderfully believable as a bunch of bullied misfits whilst also being the story’s heroes.
The film was fun to watch but it also taught me a couple of things about myself.
- I’m not really scared of clowns. I don’t like them, but I’m not a sufferer of coulrophobia at all. (I have other, more significant phobias to deal with anyway.) What frightened me in this film was the fear within the characters themselves. When they were scared, so was I. (Well done, filmmakers.)
- I hang on to notions about myself for a lot longer than is necessary. I still think that I don’t like horror films when what I actually don’t like is being afraid. You might think those are the same things, but they’re not. You don’t find every horror film scary, do you? Of course not. I’ve written off horror films for all of this time because I’ve lumped them into the same category: shit that scares me so I’ll avoid it. I can stand to be a little scared though, if the film itself is a good one.
So ‘IT’ was a good film that scared me a bit but that was actually really great to watch. And I think I’ll end up watching more horror films because of it.
Who would have thought you could come out of a film about a demonic creature that looks like a killer clown and experience a degree of personal growth?