Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time: 10 Things I Want For IT Chapter Two

September 14, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee
IT Pennywise Bill Skarsgard IT Chapter Two - Jessica Chastain

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Pennywise has arrived! Everyone’s favorite monster clown got his own feature film (as in, a movie released in theaters) this past weekend and IT was great. I had some minor (very minor) issues with the movie but overall I had a great time. You can check out that review here if you want. I’m not the only one who enjoyed myself, as the film is critically acclaimed (86% on Rotten Tomatoes at this time, certified fresh) and is breaking just a massive amount of records. There’s a very good chance it becomes the top-grossing horror film of all time, not adjusting for inflation.

While IT was always planned to be a duology, you know that IT Chapter Two would never have been announced if this film bombed somehow. Now that Pennywise is making the competition float, a second film is a lock. It’ll be out in 2019, even.

What do we know about the sequel? Screenwriter Gary Dauberman will be back. Andy Muschietti is more or less confirmed, but he has yet to actually sign a deal. We also know that he wants to use flashbacks involving the kids from the first film, which is a terrific move. It’s also one that he’ll need to do as soon as possible before they age out of the roles. I’d guess he’s already filmed some material with them during the shoot of Chapter One, but there’s really no way to know unless he tells us.

Story-wise, we know that this film will follow the Loser’s Club as adults, as they return to Derry after 27 years to confront It once and for all. Muschietti has promised a darker chapter two than chapter one, especially as it pertains to Mike. Basically, his time staying in Derry is going to have some serious psychological effects on him, even if Pennywise isn’t directly related. It will certainly give the character more to do since his role of Derry historian was given to Ben in the latest adaptation.

We know something of what Muschietti wants to do, but there’s still quite a bit of book left and a lot that we could see or not see. So this week I’m going to list ten things I want to be part of the upcoming IT Chapter Two.

There are going to be spoilers for the new movie here, so if you haven’t seen it, go do that first. There are also spoilers for the book but that’s 31 years old. If you haven’t read it or don’t know what happens by now, that’s on you.

#10: A big name to play Stan.

I’ve seen several reports of people who went to screenings of IT only for the crowd to act surprised when the title card said it was IT: Chapter One at the end of the movie. Either those people hadn’t read the source material, hadn’t seen the miniseries or just assumed it was only going to be a movie about the kids. Whatever the case, the news that the story would continue surprised them.

I say the creative team should take advantage of that. Get a bigger name, or at least an instantly recognizable name, to play Adult Stan. In the novel, and the miniseries, Stan kills himself instead of go back to Derry to face IT. So if you’re one of the crowd who hasn’t had any past experience with the story, you won’t know that. By casting a big name and marketing that name, you can hit people with a Psycho/Scream moment with that name dying early. Just make sure they’re not so big as to distract from the story.

#9: A cast that compliments Chapter One

It’s going to be very easy to get anyone you want to play the adult Loser’s Club now that IT is a bonafide hit. It could be argued that would be a bad idea, as if you load it with an all-star cast you’ll just detract from things. One great thing about the miniseries is that while there were recognizable faces, none of them were big names, except maybe John Ritter. Tim Curry could be considered, but even he was under a ton of makeup.

Instead, you want a cast of talented actors that compliments the child cast perfectly. This doesn’t just mean in looks, although that will help. That’s why you keep seeing Amy Adams’ name pop up when casting Bev, because of the red hair and the fact that Sophie Lillis is already playing a young Amy Adams in another project. What I really mean is you need actors capable of hitting the same personality traits of the Losers that were exhibited in the latest film. You also need the chemistry that the kids had in the first film, so no pressure or anything.

#8: A definitive answer on Henry Bowers

It would be easy to just say that Henry Bowers died in Chapter One. It certainly looked as though he did, as it would be hard to survive a fall like that. I’m also fairly sure (although we had a bunch of noisy kids without adults at our screening) that I heard his neck crack, but I could be wrong. It looked like a definitive end but in a movie where we saw a child’s arm bitten off, I think if Bowers were truly dead we’d get a body.

It’s not that Bowers is necessary for the second half of the story. Yes, Mike needs to end up in the hospital prior to the battle with Pennywise, but that can easily be accomplished some other way. I think one of the flashbacks in this film need to provide an answer on Bowers one way or the other. I’d prefer if his body were found alive and he got blamed for the deaths of the missing kids as in the book, but I’m surprisingly not too upset about killing him off.

#7: Limit the mysticism

Andy Muschietti’s already hinted in an interview that the Ritual of Chud is going to make Chapter Two. However, I’d advise against going too deep into the metaphysical mythology of King’s novel. The idea of interlocking tongues and telling jokes is silly enough that I can’t see it flying in a movie. It works in the book but can you see that on screen? Adult Richie locking tongues with a giant spider trying to make it laugh? It would completely throw the film off the rails, right?

I’m not saying you need a generic fight at the end, but there’s got to be a way to alter the Ritual of Chud to make it a believable way to end It without resorting to that. You can get away with a lot more in movies now, as Marvel’s proving with Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange, but I feel like this would ruin the tone of the film. Speaking of…

#6: Bring back the Spider.

It’s a common belief that the Spider in the miniseries was awful as they didn’t have the budget or the technology to pull off the effect. We do now. As I said, Marvel’s getting away with a lot and with a reasonable budget and a proper explanation, you could probably put a giant spider on screen and have it make sense. The key is to limit it and have a realistic way for It to die. I’m usually against CG but they managed to use it to great effect in the original, particularly that projector scene.

It’s a risk bringing the Spider back, but you’ve already hinted at it. During the final battle, Pennywise grows spider arms to attack the kids. So the set-up’s already there. Now is the time to follow through. I imagine that this film will have a higher budget, so devote all of that to the big special effects and let the smaller scares get done practically. The better it looks, the more people will be willing to accept it.

#5 More suspense

IT had some great jump scares, even if it didn’t always build to them. However, there have been some who thought the jump scares got tiresome. I didn’t mind, and I’m usually the first to decry that. Muschietti has an eye for building up the tension as he does on a number of occasions. Those moments where Pennywise runs at the camera in the trailers? There’s build to those moments both times and they grow out of creepy tension.

The sequel needs more of that, because that’s arguable where the first film was at its best. The creepier moments were when something was lurking in the background or you knew something was off but couldn’t put your finger on what. Don’t just throw out the scares without that suspense, as it can get old. It’ll also let you save that effects budget for the end.

#4: The history of Derry

This was hinted at in the first film just as it was in the miniseries, but I want more of the history of Derry onscreen. Muschietti’s already said he wants to put the fire at the black spot on screen, but why stop there? There’s always the shooting of the Bradley Gang or, even better, IT’s arrival. Establish how long it’s been here by showing it arrive before humans did.

The first film did a great job of suggesting how long Pennywise has been around, but give IT a sense of scale and scope to really build to that conclusion. The miniseries didn’t do that, which is another reason the spider felt out of place. Audiences are willing to accept a lot if you set it up properly. All you have to do is trust your script and commit to it.

#3: The death of Adrian Mellon

I think you’re going to need a tragic death to open IT Chapter Two the same as you did Chapter One, in order to once again establish how much of a monster Pennywise is. After all, we’re not supposed to like this guy. He preys on children and other innocents. He eats them alive. That’s where the death of Adrian Mellon comes in hand. By all rights, this scene would open the film’s present day timeline.

In the book, Adrian Mellon is a gay man who is simply walking through the Derry town fair when he’s the victim of a hate crime. The hatred for Mellon awakens Pennywise, who feasts on Mellon by biting into his armpit to get to his heart after he’s thrown into the Canal. Hate crimes are, sadly, still relevant today, so it could be an awful moment to once again show Pennywise’s horrible influence on Derry, then establish that he’s alive by having him eat poor Adrian.

#2: More of IT’s lair

One of the coolest things about this latest adaptation, to me, was that It had an actual lair. There were bodies floating so Pennywise could feed whenever he wanted. There were trophies from all of his previous victims (once again establishing how long IT’s been doing this) and even a stage from what we can assume is the person Pennywise took that form from. I just think it’d be cool to explore that more. For example, where did Pennywise go when he fell down that pipe?

This would also be a good chance to reveal that IT is female and IT is pregnant, as the book did. The whole reason why the kids were brought together now and given the ability to kill IT was that it could not longer leave due to its eggs. So what if there’s a secret room in It’s lair where the eggs are? You could even have a nice bit of mystery at the end if, like the book, you have Ben unsure if he got them all.

#1: More Bill Skarsgard

Bill Skarsgard was tremendous as Pennywise. Instead of trying to repeat what Tim Curry did, he truly did his own thing. The result was an unnerving and darkly comedic version of the monster clown that I’d argue wasn’t on screen enough. That was my biggest complaint is that Skarsgard was somewhat limited in what he was allowed to do, as I would have enjoy a lot more dialogue from him instead of brief flashes before he vanishes again. In the sequel, I definitely want more of Pennywise. He doesn’t need to rely as much on shapeshifting (although it would be nice if they kept that), so we can allow Skarsgard to really get into the role.

That said, you obviously don’t want too much Pennywise. There’s still a story to tell and if you give him too much screen time just because he’s good, you’re going to make the film suffer. It’ll be tough to balance that out, but the creative team seems up to the task. They were able to balance multiple elements in IT, so I’ve no doubt they’ve got a handle on what to do with Part Two.

As the first film showed, as long as you retain the heart and spirit of King’s novel, the changes aren’t going to matter a whole lot. Just put as much effort into finishing the story as you did telling the first half and you’ll do fine. I, for one, am excited to get to 2019 and watch Pennywise do his thing again.

Ending Notes:

That’s it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook.

Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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