On Sept. 6, audiences will truly float “two.”
Pennywise has returned from his 27-year slumber and is ready to feast on the children of Derry, Maine, in the highly-anticipated film “IT Chapter Two.” The previous installment of “IT” was greeted with positive critical reception and over $700 million at the box office. With the sequel hitting theaters the first week of September, The Daily Texan spoke to a series of fans who cannot wait to dip their feet back into Derry’s sewers.
The story of “IT” has a widespread appeal that can transcend decades, as evidenced by the 1990 miniseries and two recent blockbuster films. Shannon McGrew, founder of horror site Nightmarish Conjurings, said “IT’s” mass appeal is related to its story and nostalgia.
“I think ‘IT’ has been so successful with general audiences because it’s not just straight horror,” McGrew said. “You also have a coming-of-age story woven throughout, and there is also the nostalgia factor of those of us who watched the miniseries from the ‘90s. Put that all together and you have the perfect storm.”
“IT” most notably features Pennywise as the antagonist. Natalia Darby, a writer for HorrorWeb and journalism senior, said Pennywise’s tactics contribute to thestory’s success.
“It plays on childhood fears,” Darby said. “In the 2017 version, Pennywise says, ‘Fear salts the meat.’ It is interesting for people to see how a creature feeds off fear, but it only works for children because they are susceptible to his little mind games.”
UT alumnus James Preston Poole (2018), a film critic for the site Full Circle, wrote about the allure of “IT’s” characters.
“The reason ‘IT’ has endured is that clowns are terrifying.” Poole said. “The characters in the Loser’s Club, that sense of a childhood bond, gets us all invested. Look at the success of ‘Stranger Things.’”
Since the sequel takes place 27 years after the first film, adult counterparts to the original kids were cast. While “IT” mainly casted lesser-known child actors, “IT Chapter Two” features an A-list cast including Jessica Chastain. Many have praised the casting choices for the sequel, though not all fans have been content with it. Darby said she was bothered by the star status of the new cast.
“I’m still iffy about it,” Darby said. “Not to say that everyone is not great, but none of them have really done horror aside from Jessica Chastain. I was kind of hoping for them to be a cast of nobodies like they did with the (first) movie.”
With the enormous success of “IT” and the anticipated success of its sequel, many are left to wonder if “Chapter Two” will truly be the end of Pennywise’s reign on the big screen. Radio-television-film sophomore Alma Zamora said she’d be hesitant for the films to depart from the source material.
“I’m generally not a fan of things trying to build off of original source material,” Zamora said. “(I’d like it) maybe if they were somehow to get Stephen King on board for an origin story for Pennywise.”
With “IT Chapter Two” right around the corner, the Pennywise-infested hype is at an all-time high. Whether or not the second trip to Derry, Maine, will surpass expectations remains to be seen, but fans will surely be seeing the film regardless.