After months of fever-pitch anticipation, Andy Muschietti’s IT hit theaters nationwide this weekend, and consensus says: “Believe the hype!” In the coming week/months/years, you can expect an avalanche of critical analysis of the film and its myriad subtexts, along with copious praises for the director and his talented cast, specifically Bill Skarsgård instantly iconic portrayal of Pennywise.
But I want to be one of the first to heap accolades on another one of IT’s terrifying adaptations: The bizarre and disturbing woman referred to in the credits as Judith. Just like Annabelle stole the show in The Conjuring, Judith is a side character who’s just as harrowing as the primary villain.
Warning: Below There Be Spoilers
IT first appears to Stan (Wyatt Oleff), not in the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (or a bloated corpse, as in Stephen King’s novel); it appears as a manifestation of an abstract painting: A woman holding a flute. Like a Picasso on acid, the exaggerated and elongated forms thrust Stan (and moviegoers) into the deepest pit of The Uncanny Valley! Judith appears again near the film’s conclusion, and it takes the combined efforts of The Losers Club to beat her back.
Related Article: (SPOILERS) 8 Easter Eggs You Probably Missed in “It”
In an interview with The New York Times, Muschietti revealed the very personal roots of this ghastly abomination.
Muschietti: “In my house [growing up] there was a print of an [Amedeo] Modigliani painting that I found terrifying. And I thought of meeting an incarnation of the woman in it would drive me crazy. His visions of humans were with elongated necks, crooked faces, and empty eyes most of the time. It was so deformed that, as a child, you don’t see it as an artist’s style. You see it as a monster.”
A quick search of the artist’s work will show you exactly what Muschietti’s talking about. While I couldn’t find a picture of a woman playing flute among the works of Modigliani (or one specifically titled Judith), women with elongated necks, vacant expressions, and slightly menacing auras appear to be his forte. Have a look at some of his most unnerving paintings.
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (12 July 1884 – 24 January 1920) was an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces and figures, that were not received well during his lifetime, but later found acceptance. Modigliani spent his youth in Italy, where he studied the art of antiquity and the Renaissance until he moved to Paris in 1906. There he came into contact with prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brâncuși.
In IT, Judith is played by Canadian actress/model Tatum Lee, whose unique features & thin body accent Muschietti vision with chilling resonance. In real life, however, she’s far more beautiful than terrifying—although her powerful presence is impactful.
About Tatum Lee: Tatum Lee is a Canadian actress from Toronto, Ontario. Her love of performing became apparent at a young age while spending time in her Nanna’s costume Shop (Janal Creations). She would try on all the costumes and create a variety of interesting Characters for her family’s enjoyment. By her early teens Tatum had been cast in over seven community theatre productions including elementary school plays. It was clear to all that she had caught the acting bug and went to study with Lewis Baumander at the LB Acting Studio.
If you haven’t seen IT yet, check out the trailer and synopsis below.
Official Synopsis: When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, neighborhood kids band together to square off against Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), an evil clown whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.
In addition to Skarsgård and Jacobs, IT stars Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Nicholas Hamilton.
What did you guys think of Judith in IT? Do you agree she was just as terrifying as Pennywise? What do you think of the artwork of Amedeo Modigliani? Let’s discuss in the Comments section!