This is the one thing that the new version of It manages to do that most horrors have failed at
It isn't as simple as making us scream.
Think over the last few years, to the majority of the best mainstream scary movies that Hollywood has had to offer, and most of them break down into one of two catagories:
(1) A Possessed House: Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring, Sinister, The Babadook, The Woman In Black.
or (2) A Possessed Person: Insidious, Annabelle, Drag Me To Hell, It Follows, Ouija: Origin Of Evil.
There have of course been examples outside of this rule - Get Out, Don't Breathe, Green Room - but for the most part, when there's a major horror movie on the horizon, it revolves around a scary house or a scary person.
It is very rare that a horror movie expands those horizons, to widen the scope of the scares, because if you don't focus on just one house or just one person, then the horror seems more easily escapable, and therefore much less horrifying.
Which is where the new iteration of It comes into play: there horror is looming everywhere, all of the time, and is totally inescapable.
Not just because the horror being inflicted is upon kids, who by definition don't possess the abilities to just up and leave the scenario that is scary to them. They are tied down by a lack of their own authority, by their parents and older relatives, but the oppression of needing to go to school or "to go outside and play", even being forced from the relative safety of their own home.
Coupled with that is the fact that Pennywise The Clown isn't just stalking one child, or one house. He is bringing death and fear to an entire town, and has been doing so for generations.
Anyone who has read the book or seen the original version (or even the trailer for this version) will see hints that Pennywise has been around for hundreds of years, resurfacing once every few decades to feed before going back into hibernation, and the people of Derry have an almost genetic predisposition to allow this to happen, that living in this town comes with a higher death rate than just about anywhere else imaginable, but that's just the way of it.
So you've got more-or-less defenceless kids, being stalked by an ageless evil, and even their own guardians aren't psychologically equipped to help. Plus, in many of their cases, the parents themselves are a source of additional horror in the children's lives, and the subtext that Pennywise has been using them to whip up fear in them until his arrival is a terrifying one.
Combined, that builds to a panicky, oppressive fear throughout the movie, the knowledge that there is no safe zone in between scares, no reliable down-time between Pennywise's attacks, on a scale that is much, much bigger than most horror movies, and it achieves it with ease.
Plus, it has to be said that Bill Skarsgard plays the clown with such unnerving unpredictability, that it lines up perfectly with the off-kilter, constantly on-guard tone throughout the film. During his first appearance, as he chats to Georgie from the storm-drawn, he suddenly zones out mid-conversation, his eyes drifting in their sockets as though he's become momentarily bored of his soon-to-be-pray. It is a fully goose-bump raising scene that gives a fantastic taster for the rest of the type of scares to come.
Later, when one of The Losers Club is in the library researching the history of Derry, a snarky librarian is sometimes viewed in the distant background, constantly out of focus, but staring at the camera, manic grin on her face. It is practically hidden in the scene, as all the attention is on Ben and the book he is reading, but it goes to show the lengths that the director wanted to instil the sense of ever-present dread that she is back there staring at us, barely visible unless you knew to look for her.
The 2017 version of It is definitely one of the strongest adaptations of a Stephen King book, because not only does it comes across like Wes Craven's take on The Goonies, but the instricacies of his horror have been brought to the big screen perfectly.
This isn't just a scary house or a scary, possessed child. This is horror everywhere you look, and It is coming for you.
All clips via Warner Brothers