By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Stephen King‘s horror universe is ripe for being turned into a cinematic powerhouse. When the movie IT has a label of ‘Chapter Two,’ it sets up the possibility of new original tales can be told.
Since The Conjuring can do it with its spinoffs, so can IT! James Wan‘s restrictive franchise of angry ghosts / demons terrorizing humans can only go so far as where the Paranormal Activity films went. To deliver all the backstory requires a collective to oversee production of recent releases—namely IT, Pet Semetary and Dark Tower—and having an original story arc to bring it all together for some massive confrontation. The teases offered in how the Native Indians dealt with the occult world has me interested and they can be the saviours. Two of these three films involve them and until Universal gets their monster-verse going, there is a gap to fill.
The natural order has laws, and I found the screenplay in IT Chapter Two by Andrés Muschietti (director) and Gary Dauberman (writer) smart enough to remark that even Pennywise’s many forms has to obey physics. Shrink it down to size, and The Loser’s Club should be able to contain it. That’s what Mike believes, when he met up with survivors of a local Indian tribe to discover his history. Although this moment was very tightly explained, more can be done in later films.
In Pet Semetary, the Micmacs used the cursed territory to bring back the dead but were unaware of what would occupy the corpses. The Wendigo they feared is of terrestrial origin whilst IT/Pennywise is extraterrestrial. The choice in what form of this cinema universe should take needs to be a cosmic one.
It doesn’t have to take on tones of H. P. Lovecraft either. Pet Semetary’s zombies can be explained by a crashed meteor. Its radiation breathes new life to dead matter. The true form of IT is, according to the movie, a group of three orbiting orange lights. In order to sustain itself, the ‘science’ requires the entity to feed on the energy of others (the soul). Despite the fact horror films typically obey no internal logic, I enjoyed how this film kept the science solid and the illusions a true product of the mind. Seeing is believing, and I wondered how the Loser’s Club would fare if they wore blindfolds while attempting to bring down Pennywise.
King’s Dark Tower novels defines the world in all its fleshy and sordid details. Sadly the film did not live up to expectations, and will have to be rebooted to give the shared universe the kickstart it needs. References to other works must include Dreamcatcher, Hearts in Atlantis, Insomnia, and The Mist. Three titles in this list may have to be remade in order to fit into current canon.
Although more of King’s written tales refer to a shared timeline, not all of them are or were box office movie gold. As for the upcoming Dr. Sleep, it’s possible to add to the lore to make tie the films together much like how Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark developed a new arc to introduce new terrors. Salem’s Lot can be difficult since this tale is about vampires in a different part of the world.
Only time will tell if Warner Brothers reveal they have a master plan. New Line Cinema and Paramount have to be on board since King’s works are not exclusive. Had producers thought ahead in making a timeline to cumulate to the perennial Dark Tower, I’d be as excited to see how it all comes together more than Star Wars, with the end of the Skywalkers this December and all those Marvel Entertainment films and the Infinity War saga combined.