Pennywise (2017)
A close up of Pennywise. Source: MovieWeb

Pennywise (2017) from Stephen King’s It remake was pretty horrifying. But is he the scariest horror villain of all time?

Clowns tend to provoke one of two reactions: either you love them or you hate them. But after seeing Pennywise (2017) in Stephen King’s It adaption you probably now both love and hate clowns at the same time. Maybe you’ll never trust another clown for as long as you live.

But putting aside my personal vendetta against clowns, the new It adaption was a seriously good horror classic done right, for a change. There were no narrative plot holes, each character had a lot of depth and Pennywise was legit freaky.

But just why was Pennywise (2017) so scary?

1. It’s opening scene reveals that Pennywise (2017) has no human emotions.

Pennywise (2017)
Poor Georgie. Source: Stephen King Wiki

The original story by Stephen King describes Pennywise as follows:

“Although a great mocker of emotions, he never felt one of his own.”

I think this really comes through in Bill Skarsgard’s performance and it’s terrifying. You can really see that there is something very off about the way he interacts with children. It’s like he has nothing inside of him and everything is just a facade he uses to feed his insatiable hunger for human flesh.

Pennywise always has this sick, twisted smile that is so inhuman. His eyes pop out of his face in a way that tries to be fun and happy but hides a really terrifying hunger. Everything’s an act with Pennywise so that he can manipulate the children into falling for his trap.

This is what scared me the most about the opening sequence of Stephen King’s It remake (2017). That’s how he lures Georgie Denbrough into the sewer to his gruesome death. One of the creepiest horror scenes i’ve seen in a long time.

2. Pennywise (2017) feeds on fear.

Pennywise (2017)
Pennywise getting ready to eat some children. Source: PopSugar

Apparently frightened flesh tastes better, according to the clown himself, Pennywise. I can’t imagine how fear would affect the taste of flesh but I will take his word for it.

The freaky thing about Pennywise is that he somehow inherently knows what scares you the most and then becomes that thing. He also somehow always knows where you are so he can sneak up on you.

It’s like Pennywise has placed a GPS so that he can find the perfect time to frighten you. He has a tailored shape and form to suit any unlucky child from Derry. Whether it’s a diseased person, your creepy dad, a clown or anything else, it will find that one thing that makes you wet your trousers.

As a child, your nightmare is that your worst fear will come to life but Pennywise actually makes that happen. I don’t think any other horror villains can do that.

3. Pennywise (2017) goes unnoticed by the adults of Derry.

It’s just the children of Derry who are able to see Pennywise and no one else. Pennywise only shows himself to the person (or group of people) it is targeting. So while one person in a crowded room may be able to see It, no one else will.

The best that shows this best is when Pennywise targets Beverly in her home bathroom, making blood gush out of her sink drain and cover the entire room. Also while grabbing Beverly and trying to drag her down the drain. Beverly’s creepy father walks in the bathroom and doesn’t even see the blood even though it’s everywhere.

He chooses to target children because they are easier to manipulate and terrorise.

Pennywise (2017)
Blood in Beverly’s bathroom. Source: Movie Pilot

4. Pennywise has no backstory in the It 2017 remake.

Pennywise (2017)
Pennywise loves balloons. Source: Daily Mail

One of the things (amongst many) that makes Pennywise one of the scariest villains of all time is that the movie doesn’t tell us anything about him. All we know (unless you’ve read the book) is that he feeds off of fear.

The novel tells us that Pennywise originated from an undiscovered void containing and surrounding the entire Universe. A place referred to as the “Macroverse,” whatever the hell that means.

It sometimes refers to his real name as Robert Gray but he’s basically an all powerful entity from some obscure place. Sounds like every science fiction novel i’ve ever read.

Honestly, Pennywise is a lot scarier in the 2017 It remake because he lacks identity.

But is Pennywise (2017) the scariest horror villain of all time?

Pennywise (2017)
I’m scared of Bill Skarsgard. Source: BroBible

Let’s not forget that Stephen King himself has created a bunch of other really terrifying villains: Jack Torrence and the Hotel Caretaker from The Shining and William ‘Wild Bill’ Wharton (the psycho murderer) from The Green Mile amongst others.

It’s likely Pennywise will continue to be an iconic and terrifying villain for generations to come. It’s had a serious impact on the genre.

A professional writer and actor. I enjoy watching cult classics and eating chicken. Just your average dude.