Bill Skarsgard may have taken the title role of the killer clown in It, but the best supporting character of the smash blockbuster might have been the idyllic town the horror movie was set in. "I know that place was being terrorized by a psycho clown, but I kind of want to live there," I told my roommate as we walked out of the movie theater.

Small Town Charm

It, the hottest horror movie of the year, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, is set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. The small town is packed with northeastern charm. Children race down a cute, old-fashioned main street, and swim in their underwear in the local gorge. The movie is packed with gratuitous aerial shots of an emerald river snaking through a lush valley and beautiful rocky cliffs. The film gives an extensive tour of the town, with scenes featuring a historic library, abandoned Victorian houses, secret caves and suburban neighborhoods.

The idyllic setting makes the ensuing horror even darker, the brutal killings a stark contrast to the wholesome backdrop. Over the course of the movie, the audience realizes the town isn't as sweet as it appears. The parents are neglectful and abusive, local bullies terrorize the high school, and creepy happenings begin to happen in broad daylight.

Derry in Real Life

Derry makes an appearance in several other Stephen King books, serving as the setting for Insomnia and Bag of Bones. Though Derry is a fictional town, it is said to be based on the town where Stephen King himself lives, Bangor. A map on Stephen King's website puts Derry's location at the site of real life Etna, a tiny town with a population of just over 1,200 people, just west of Bangor.

Stephen King, a Maine resident himself, set many of his iconic stories in Maine. Carrie, the 1974 novel about a telekinetic high school student out for revenge, which was later made into a hit horror film, takes place in Chamberlain, Maine. Chamberlain is a tiny coastal town in central Maine. King also created the fictional Castle Rock, which is located at the site of the real life Woodstock Maine. Castle Rock was the setting for many of King's creepy thrillers including The Dead Zone and Cujo.

The new It movie, a remake of the 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry, premiered at number one, grossing $123 million in its opening week. The smash success of It is bringing life in Derry to audiences around the country. Though blockbuster horror movies are scary, their depictions of cozy small town life are still appealing, killer clowns and all. Beautifully shot horror movies like It bring more attention to the charms of rural America.

Small town life in rural America tends to be pretty affordable. The average rent in Bangor, Maine, the inspiration for many of Stephen King's horror novels, is $944 per month, with the cost of a three bedroom averaging around $1244 monthly. But rental prices have been shooting upwards in recent years, with the average rent in Bangor up 31% since 2011.

This rate is in line with rising housing costs across the state. Portland, the biggest city in Maine, has seen rental prices increase by about 33% in the same time period. However, there are signs that the housing market is slowing, in the past year rental prices have decreased by 9%. The dramatic rise of rental costs has spurred housing activists into action to push for rent control and renter rights in Maine.

Charmed or Terrified? You Decide

Perhaps these iconic horror movies are helping put these Maine towns on the map. The adorable shots of wooden houses and grassy riverbanks will probably draw outsiders to these small communities. Many hardcore Stephen King fans make pilgrimages to Bangor, excitedly walking the sidewalks of the streets that inspired It and Insomnia, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite author.

But while many are charmed by the picturesque backdrops of these scary movies, the terrifying imagery may keep others away. Who wants to live in a town that could be haunted? No matter how beautiful the jade green rivers are, living in a town that is attacked by a crazy clown every 27 years is just plain creepy.

So, are horror movies driving people to the small towns they are set in, or driving them away? It is hard to tell. Perhaps the two groups balance each other out, with horror fanatics rushing to Bangor and everyone else keeping their distance. Rent prices in Bangor have been increasing steadily over the past half decade, so it will be interesting to see if they spike upward after this recent release of It.

Rising rent prices in Maine may be completely unrelated to the iconic horror movies set there. Many people move to Maine for its stunning coastline, glorious fall colors, and adorable New England charm.

Though we can't be sure how horror movies are affecting housing prices in the small towns they are based on, one thing we can be sure of, is that It is a smash hit. Go watch it in theaters and see if you might want to move to Bangor yourself.

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