IT: Childhood Nightmares & Beyond

I don’t usually take the time to self indulge on this website, but after watching the new release of IT, directed by Andy Muschietti – I’m going to do just that.

You see, there is a running joke around Gabbing Geek that I’m afraid of clowns. After watching IT, a question crawled from gutters in the back of my mind – is my fear of clowns real?

The movie IT explores the concept of childhood fears and how we all have the power to feed that fear (or not). And for a very long time the joke has been that MY fear is around the face painted nightmares of most kids. But honestly – clowns are not that scary. Not really.

I’ll explain.

I started thinking after the movie – if I was one of those kids, how would IT manifest to me? What would be the single most scariest thing that would throw me back and make me crap my pants? Would it be a clown? Or would it be something scarier, something darker… The truth is the latter.

When I was a kid, oh…. say, anywhere between 10 and 21 I used to have this recurring nightmare. It was one of those dreams that I couldn’t shake, no matter how many times I slept with a night-light, or tried to talk to someone about it the next day to make it “less scary.” This particular nightmare didn’t want to go away – and it wasn’t something I knew how to deal with. So it stayed. It stayed for over 10 years. Until one day it was gone.

Here’s how the dream went: Usually I’m minding my business, but I’m always with friends somewhere unthreatening, and truly unassuming. When suddenly it’s time for me to go home. It’s the same every time. I get this urge that something is wrong, and I need to get home – NOW. So wherever I am at the time, I’m always cautious about going back to the house and usually that’s when I see it. The house is pitch black. No lights on. No movement. Fearful that something awful has happened to my family, I go into my house looking for them, and for the most part find them right away. And for a moment, everything feels normal, particularly, everything feels safe. And then it comes – like a rolling thunder, or a far away balrog growl. And what felt like a safe house, immediately turns into a dark pit of despair. All the lights (for some reason are always on when I am inside the house) go out. It’s pitch black (again). An icy chill seeps into the room like a snake on the prowl.

Immediately I know IT’s here. Whatever IT is. I never fully see it, it’s never really anything – it’s more of a feeling and a darkness. But it has a name, and its name is Demon. Quickly, like being tossed into a tornado of terror, the thing flies through my family members hearts like an arrow – but without missing. Each time the dark entity pierces my loved ones I hear their screams, and I see the life drain out of their eyes. It’s like the Demon is eating them from the inside out.

Usually it takes a moment, but I hit the ground running – I look for anywhere to hide. But it doesn’t matter. The demon knows where I am, and it doesn’t care if I run. And, just when I think that my life force will be taken like my family, the demon passes through me, and nothing happens. It tries again, and again, and again. Each time failing. And out of sheer frustration I hear it scream a scream like none I’ve ever heard before – and then it’s gone. The lights come back on, and everyone is gone. Everyone, but me.

You see – the demon thing – this is my “IT.” Not clowns. This demon from my dreams is what scares me the most. A darkness I cannot see nor defend my family against. It’s a darkness that plagued my dreams for most of my adolescent life (I blame the fact that I probably saw Raiders of the Lost Ark too young).

As ridiculous as it may seem to me now, there was a point where I no longer fed this fear (the demon). And eventually the dream went away. Just like that. And I think that’s what I love the most about the movie. Not only does it explore the pains of youth growing up in a small town, it personifies fear to the maximum level. Fear of the imagined, but also fear for your friends, fear from family members, fear of growing up, or of being different, or just plain fear of being alone.

IT isn’t just a movie about a demonic clown, it’s about how each of us has something that scares us to death, and explores how we tackle it in the end.

So I ask you, weary reader – what is your deepest darkest fear? What is your… “IT?”

And what are you going to do about it?

 

supergeekerella

Gabbing Geek co-founder, podcaster

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