‘American Horror Story’ vs. ‘It’: Why Everyone’s Obsessed With Scary Clowns This Year

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

One of the joys of the horror genre is that it can go in so many directions.

There’s ugly monsters, creepy ghosts, psychopaths, scary clowns, scary clowns.

Scary clowns. Scary clowns.

It’s funny how we always end up coming back to clowns as a culture, isn’t it? It’s a symbol of childhood innocence that’s easily corruptible. Creepy baby dolls or haunted toys show up as a horror trope too, but for some reason, it’s the clowns that really stick.

Surprise surprise, with the rise of coulrophobia (fear of clowns) in recent years, we’re getting a remake of Stephen King’s It. This time, it won’t have Tim Curry as Pennywise, but it’s still looking pretty darn scary based on the trailers we’ve had.


He’s Baaaaaack

A post shared by Ryan Murphy (@mrrpmurphy) on

But wait, what’s this? American Horror Story is also returning to the subject of creepy clowns, with the supernatural comic book clown Twisty making a return to the show after several years of absence.

As a matter of fact, these two stories seem to match up fairly perfectly, and it can’t be a coincidence that both Twisty and Pennywise are returning to the public consciousness in the same year.

We all know who to blame for this sudden surge in scary clown stories – it’s the awful, despicable people who dressed up as clowns to terrify others last year.

2016 was a sucky time for a lot of reasons, but one thing which felt like the horrific icing on the crummy cake was an increase in sightings of scary clowns. Some people thought it was funny to dress up in their scariest clown costumes, then prowl around after dark, in order to get kicks from terrifying people.

The problem with this was that, upon seeing a creepy clown late at night in an empty parking lot, victims didn’t know if this was just a hoax, a bit of fun on the part of the clown, or the start of a full on horror story. It only takes one clown to decide to take it further by bringing a knife to the party, and suddenly, everything changes.

So, understandably, no matter how scary people might find clowns ordinarily, running into one late at night is cause for genuine fear – you never know what the painted, sneering face is going to do next.

Now, the current remake of It was in development long before this clown trend popped up, but that doesn’t mean that the movie’s development wasn’t influenced by the creepy clown sightings.

It was the right time for a horror movie to tap into people’s growing unease around clowns – which is no doubt by American Horror Story returned to this particular well of inspiration when planning out season seven.

The good news is that now, thankfully, scary clown sightings have died down somewhat. The horrible people who were dressing up to frighten others have all gotten bored and moved on to other antisocial activities.

For now.

Twisty the Clown
Source: Fox

When American Horror Story returns with its Twisty story arc, and when It arrives back in theaters, there’ll be an awful lot of former creepy clowns who feel inspired to dress up yet again. This will, of course, fuel more horror stories in years to come.

Yes, that’s right: we might now be trapped, as a civilization, in an endless cycle of scary clowns, both imaginary and terrifyingly real, for decades to come.

Stay safe after dark, you never know who might be watching you.