by Graham Pierrepoint
Horror movies seem to come and go out of vogue – while the trend for Japanese shockers in the West may ebb and flow, it seems that gruesome, gory pictures and truly sinister blockbusters are hard to come by these days. While the most successful horror franchises in recent years have been the likes of Saw and The Conjuring, both have faced accusations of being derivative – Saw, perhaps of itself – and it’s safe to say that hardcore horror nuts have largely been relying upon the indie circuit for the biggest scares in recent years. Thanks to the massive success of a recent Stephen King adaptation, however, big, scary movies may finally be back on the mainstream menu.
It – the adaptation of King’s colossal book about an evil entity that lurks beneath the sewers and shapeshifts into a sinister clown called Pennywise – has been riding high at the box office for several weeks now. It has already become the most profitable horror movie in US history – knocking The Exorcist clean out of joint – and it seems to have just made the international record, too. The Exorcist is said to have pulled in around $441 million worldwide – and, at the time of writing, It has scored a colossal $478 million globally. While this places the movie in 14th place on the overall rankings for 2017, it is still huge news – as it means it is clearly the most profitable horror film of all time – from box office sales alone.
What has sparked this trend? The original TV movie of King’s novel, featuring Tim Curry as the downright terrifying Pennywise, has long been celebrated as a cult classic – but it seems that Bill Skarsgard’s unique take on the character has escalated the story and the characters into a whole new realm of appreciation. Viewers too young to have seen the original first time around now get the chance to see an altogether arguably creepier take on things – and clown phobia, of course, has been fairly mainstream for some time now.
So what does this mean for the horror movie genre? While 2017’s top-selling movies still remain comic book standards and Disney favorites, could this mean that there will be renewed interest from studios in dark, grisly tales taking over the box office? If 2016 was the year that Deadpool proved that R-rated comic book movies could pull in the cash, 2017 should surely be the year that It proved horror movies still have cultural relevance and entertainment value.