IT (2017) had effectively sold Pennywise as an antagonist but the Stephen King book is about so much more. That makes me worried about Chapter 2.
I’ve spent the last two months reading this book and it’s been one of the most difficult readings for me yet. Not only is the book extremely unsettling, but it’s also almost 1200 pages long. In these 1200 pages, the content actually concerning IT/Pennywise comes to about 300 or so at tops. The book could’ve also lost nearly 400 pages and still retained the same effect. But why is the book so long when the titular character is in less than a quarter of it?
In the book, the town of Derry is a character in itself and is explained in great detail. Even though the book is set in 1958 and 1985, we learn about the history of Derry going back hundreds of years. The story is more about how the people in Derry reacted to this demonic entity every 27 years rather than focusing on the entity itself. Every disastrous event that occurs in 27 years places is written with an emphasis on the society during that time rather than how IT impacted the disaster. And these disasters do feel like the result of a dysfunctional society with IT just being the catalyst.
A fire in an African-American bar involving the massacre of nearly a hundred black citizens is implied to be done by the Ku Klux Klan. A notorious gang known as the Bradley Gang consisting of outlaws and bandits is eventually massacred by the citizens of Derry taking law into their own hands. The list goes on. But what’s important is that IT is merely a plot device in a story about a town going through difficult times across centuries. Yes, these disasters could’ve been avoided or scaled-down but the point is, it was the existing hatred and fear among people that caused these horrific things to occur.
27 years is a huge time jump and it really feels like a lifetime in the books. These characters move on with their lives almost forgetting what happened in that one summer in 1958. They do remember IT after some pondering but it isn’t something they have been dreading up until now. It’s described as a suppressed nightmare that once again resurfaces when these characters come back to Derry. This is undoubtedly my favorite element in the book which I really hope is done justice in the movie. Think about it. Unless someone explicitly asked you to recall something that deeply affected you over 20 years ago, would you actually still think about now?
I can count numerous events that terrified me as a kid which I never think about anymore. Sure, I wasn’t hunted by a shapeshifting demon but I understand the point Stephen King is trying to make. If my guess is right, the movie will try to put a strong emphasis on this time jump and audiences will end up detesting that because it really serves no purpose to the monster in the movie.
Now, the above mentioned two points are crucial to prepare yourself for the conclusion of the film. After reading the book I’ve realized the story is actually about the 7 characters and the town of Derry rather than IT. Go into the movie expecting to see these characters evolve and their interactions rather than a supernatural hunt. If the movie decides to stay faithful to the finale from the book, prepare to make no sense of IT whatsoever. Simply put, the book’s ending is absurd. Don’t expect any closure on the shapeshifting clown’s end. How his powers work, where he comes from and how the Losers defeat him. Without spoiling anything, things get cosmic and psychedelic and you’re expected to accept everything without thinking too hard about it. I’ve made my peace with the weird ending by realizing I was expecting the book to be something else than what it was actually trying to be. Keep this in mind and the movie will definitely be a better watch.
Did you know Finn Wolfhard had a huge role to play in Bill Hader’s casting? Read more here