The night had finally arrived. Anxious for the clock to strike seven, I awaited my friend in the lobby of a theatre that was about to raise the curtain on IT, and an evening I’ll never forget.
Every morsel of imagery to that point had certainly seemed to indicate that Bill Skarsgard had not cowed from the daunting task of walking in Tim Curry’s footsteps. And watching each of the youngsters who comprised The Loser’s Club, led by the sensational Finn Wolfhard, exquisitely react to the projector scene from the first trailer, had me giddy at the concept of an R-Rated adaptation of Stephen King’s IT.
My buddy had wanted to ensure that we settled into decent seats, so we decided to meet an hour before the film began. In the few moments before his arrival, I watched a steady stream of people walk through the doors and make their way to the ticket counter, only to leave immediately after. One after another slid in and out asking for passes to the 7 o’clock show, and a handful purchased admission to the later screening, but none wanted to risk attempts just before the movie began, because they wanted to ensure that they would gain entry.
The smallest of smiles formed on my lips at a clear excitement for a horror flick that reminded me of opening night for The Force Awakens.
Shortly after, my friend walked in and with a grin asked “You ready for this, son?”
“I’ve been ready for a year.”
Moments before the doors opened, in a lobby bustling with patrons securing their sodas and popcorn, a teenager walked by grasping a handful of red balloons.
With a chuckled “Yes!” I pointed it out as those waiting in line watched with smiles and wonder as the kid passed through and disappeared into the back of the building.
Moments later we were allowed passage and just as we made our way around the corner, a single red balloon rested outside the theatre door, setting off a steady stream of laughs and murmurs and pictures from excited moviegoers.
Once inside, the room filled quickly until nary a seat could be found. When the lights dimmed and another balloon appeared on the screen, there was applause. By the time Pennywise had claimed his first victim set to a bed of screams from the audience, my eyes widened with a smirk at the realization that this wasn’t ABC, and we weren’t in Kansas anymore.
Over the next two-plus hours, laughs and gasps and deafening silence accompanied many more screams, and during a particularly tense scene, a man to my left stared intently with his hands just inches from his face, ready to cover his eyes if it proved too much to take. When the final graphic stretched across the screen promising a second chapter, cheers echoed off the walls.
I couldn’t help but look around and drink it all in. It reminded me of Minnesota Twins playoffs games that I’d attended at the Metrodome years ago, when every so often I’d stop cheering and just glance around a stadium brimming with 60,000 rabid fans waving Homer Hankies with a thunderous frenzy that gave me chills.
Thursday night was no different. There weren’t tens of thousands of people, but a capacity crowd nonetheless that was engaged and energized. The anticipation for IT was unlike anything horror had recently witnessed, but when it delivered on that promise, I couldn’t help but feel proud, because this was not Star Wars, but a beautifully crafted horror film that had created such a gleeful stir.
It was a fervor that carried into Friday and Saturday, and will continue today and in the days and weeks to come.
When I got home to settle in for the night, that same friend, who likes horror but isn’t a die hard, texted to say “I want IT on Blu-ray.”
Once more I smiled with a single, comforting thought, “Horror did this.”
Check out our review of IT here!