If 2019 wasn't enough of a horror show to ensure you would never sleep soundly again, new developments may solidify that for you: The clowns, they are back.
On Thursday, May 9, Warner Bros. dropped the teaser trailer for It: Chapter 2, the sequel to the 2017 blockbuster hit that updated Stephen King's malevolent force that most often manifests as Pennywise the Dancing Clown for a new audience. Chapter 2 won't hit theaters until September 6 this year, but it seems IRL clowns are already growing restless... or are at least practicing for It's opening weekend some four months from now.
According to a Facebook post from police in Clarksville, Tennessee, two children reported that a man in a clown outfit had seemingly tried to lure them to his car on May 9. WKRN reports that the kids ran away from the vehicle, which is entirely the correct response both when someone tries to lure you to a car and when you see a clown in general. But after police investigated, they found that the clown was actually just "an older man who dresses up once a year on his birthday as a clown and hands out candy. Today, is his birthday."
The post added that police "went to a couple of places where he frequents and they verified he was at those places this morning dressed up as a clown. They say is a nice man that dresses up and is known to give out candy. Police had contact with him and he said he had been dressed up as a clown and did not mean any harm. There was also nothing that indicated police that his actions were intentionally harmful or meant to scare anyone. The businesses and locations he was spotted all fall in line where he was at today." Police did not identify the man by name.
As the New York Times notes, the sighting not only coincided with the It trailer, but also harkened back to the string of viral clown sightings that took over the Internet in past years. A 2016 report by Vox even found that 42 percent of people were scared of clowns, which outpaced the number of people who said they were afraid of the climate crisis at the time. (That ratio has likely changed given current predictions about ecological degradation.) That same year, Teen Vogue reported that clowns often operate in ways that seem pretty uncanny, which messes with our minds and enhances the sense of things being "off" about them.
Kelly Monfort, the President of the South East Clown Association, told the New York Times that he understands why clowns are something of a "trigger word" for a large part of the population. "Of course there are people who are like, ‘Oh, I’m scared of clowns,'" he said. His go to response is usually, "Oh, I’m scared of people!”
As long as no one ties balloons to sewers again, we're safe... for now.