Let’s be honest: clowns are terrifying. Which is undoubtedly part of what turned 2017's big-screen adaptation of Stephen King's It into the highest-grossing horror movie of all time—and why fans are lining up to catch the new sequel, It Chapter 2. But the promotional materials alone for the sequel are causing problems—and nightmares—in Australia.
IndieWire reports that in Brisbane, Australia, posters promoting It Chapter 2—which feature a close-up of Pennywise’s demented face—are scaring kids and their parents enough that many have resorted to driving alternate routes just to avoid seeing the image.
The fear factor has been so intense that parents asked Ad Standards (the organization that handles advertising complaints in Australia) to take them down. Despite the written complaint, Ad Standards refused to take all of the posters down; they did remove one from a bus stop, but reasoned they “generally have no jurisdiction over the placement or timing of advertisements, except when considering the use of language or sex, sexuality, or nudity in advertising.” The parents have a point, though: If the movie is geared toward adults, then why should children have to suffer?
Queensland 9News interviewed a few parents and their kids. “Some people do enjoy going to horror movies and that’s fine and that’s their choice, and I understand that, but we’re not choosing to see this poster,” Jane Swan, one of the parents who filed the complaint, said.
A child named Piper said it was difficult for her to sleep with the scary image stuck in her head. In the same interview, family therapist Susan De Campo said parents need to acknowledge their children’s fears, but make it clear to them that Pennywise is a pretend character. (Or is he?)