Is It (2017) Based on A True Story?

Do not go near the drains, especially if you are a kid and live in the township of Derry, Maine. As the harrowing past of the small town seeps into the present, the narrative of ‘It’ (also known as ‘It Chapter One’) becomes chillingly frenzied. Director Andy Muschietti is behind the driving wheel of the 2017 supernatural horror movie, which marvels in an indie coming-of-age haze while the horror overpowers in the end.

After a young girl named Betty Ripsom suddenly goes missing, teenager Bill’s brother, Georgie, too, falls prey to the mysterious child-killer Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Soon, more children begin disappearing in town, and Bill and a group of high school misfits must end the mystery with their lives at stake. While it is a nod to classic horror movies like ‘The Grudge‘ and ‘Goosebumps,’ you may wonder whether ‘It’ is based on actual haunting incidents. If you are eager to find the answer to this question, let us put an end to the mystery.

Is It A True Story?

No, ‘It’ is not based on a true story. While a problematic past in the township of Derry, Maine may look like it resembles history (and the director left no stone unturned to make the film authentic and era-appropriate), the movie is an adaptation of a Stephen King epic. Chase Palmer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman jointly wrote the script based on the eponymous 1986 novel by the literary genius. King’s writing has come to define a generation’s fear of clowns, epitomized by Pennywise the Dancing Clown, but a few questions remain about the story’s inception.

There is a widespread belief that King’s heinous clown character apparently draws from John Wayne Gacy, the infamous 70s serial killer clown who raped, murdered, and buried the remains of more than 33 young boys under his house. Nonetheless, while the presence of the notorious killer in the collective imagination may somewhat have inspired horrific tales, the novel’s concept took birth in a personal incident for the author. King conceived the story at a time of recollection when his car broke down in the middle of nowhere.

In Maine, everywhere seems to be in the middle of nowhere due to the foggy and mysterious woods that cover the state. As King crossed an old wooden bridge, the molten fables of the old days rushed back to him, and he was reminded of the mythical trolls who would survive on children and goats — ‘The Three Billy-Goats Gruff.’ Eventually, the troll became a circus clown in the modern rendition of the tale. As for the fictional town of Derry, King drew inspiration from the Maine township of Bangor.

At the same time, the adult-child relationship in the community also creates a feeling of horror. The book’s first adaptation exists in the form of the eponymous 1990 miniseries, which features Tim Curry (‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’) as the menacing clown. The actor received much acclaim for his amply scary performance as Pennywise. The novel’s legacy also reached Bollywood in India, where it was adapted as the television series ‘Woh.’ Both on-screen takes managed to somewhat realize the original work’s horrific potential and symbolic undertones, but couldn’t garner much praise.

The 2017 movie leaves aside the other departures, thinking of the material afresh. ‘It’ consolidates the original material but omits some aspects in the process; for example, the book features a controversial orgy between the children that the film bypasses. Regardless, it still retains the central romantic theme of the book — the loss of innocence. The movie retains the 80s feel, creating an equally enchanting and horrifying town from scratch. Albeit, as for the narrative, we reiterate that it remains fictional.

Read More: Where Was It (2017) Filmed?