One of the genius things about the new IT remake is how well-built the script is. There’s a lot of content in Stephen King’s novel, but the only things that appear in the movie are the elements that really fit with the tight story of a bunch of kids teaming up to fight Pennywise the clown.
One thing the movie opts not to delve into too deeply is who Pennywise is, and where he comes from. This works within the context of this movie, largely because exposition is the perfect way to kill suspense in a horror film, and it’s more fun (read: terrifying) to leave the specifics of the titular IT’s origins a secret.
IT makes the interesting decision to buck horror movie trends by showing us the monster from the beginning. From Jaws onward, the unwritten rule of scary stories has been to keep the Big Bad at arm’s length so that the audience doesn’t get a good look at it. Things are scarier if our brains are filling in the gaps with the worst things we can imagine.
In IT, though, Pennywise is front and center throughout the movie. After all, he’s a scary clown, so surely the more we see him, the more scared we’ll be! There’s no need to Blair Witch this movie.
Instead, Pennywise’s true nature is kept a secret, so that things can be explored in greater detail at a later date. Knowing that IT is some kind of a weird horrifying space alien wouldn’t improve the story – if anything, it would rob the movie of much of its disturbing atmosphere.
Apparently, at one point, we were going to see more of the journey that Pennywise has taken on Earth. According to Bill Skarsgård, who plays the terrifying clown, there was a scene shot for the movie that was too “disturbing” to make the cut, in which the actor wasn’t playing a monster.
“There was a scene we shot that was a flashback from the 1600s, before Pennywise [was Pennywise]. The scene turned out really, really disturbing. And I’m not the clown. I look more like myself. It’s very disturbing, and sort of a backstory for what It is, or where Pennywise came from. That might be something worth exploring in the second one. The idea is the ‘It’ entity was dormant for thousands and thousands of years. The [flashback] scene hints on that.”
Okay, so there’s a lot to unpack here.
First off, in this continuity, Pennywise is possibly not an alien. He’s some kind of ancient evil entity, supposedly present on Earth for millennia.
Second, in this flashback scene, Bill Skarsgård was not playing Pennywise.
So who was he playing? Some hapless human, a poor soul who accidentally stumbled across an unspeakable entity, and who is sucked up into it and turned into its disgusting, immortal flesh avatar?
Granted, this is all speculation, but that does sound intriguing.
It makes sense to have cut such a scene from the movie. It’s not necessary when the story is focused on the kids, rather than explaining their enemy, and there’s going to be plenty of time to explore Pennywise’s beginnings in the sequel. The deleted scene is logically better served elsewhere.
If we’re going to see this idea revisited later, maybe it’s better not to tack this onto the side of the Losers’ grown-up story.
What if, instead, we had a full on IT prequel movie? Surely the idea must have crossed the minds of Warner Bros executives who are looking at the box office takings for the first film in the series and licking their lips.
Pennywise has been around for centuries, and the vast majority of his victims have died in horrible, excruciating ways. Bill Skargård does a fantastic job as the villain, so why not give him his own movie in which he becomes the humanoid avatar of an unstoppable evil force?
If plans for a prequel movie are in the works, they’re likely in early planning stages at present, and it’s unlikely that we’d hear about them any time soon.
This idea seems just too good to waste, though. Let’s see a Sleepy Hollow-esque period horror movie in which Pennywise first emerges from the ground, and in which we watch Bill Skarsgård as the ultimately doomed hero who attempts to thwart IT before being absorbed by evil.
One way or the other, we’re probably going to see this kind of movie eventually. IT has proven too big of a hit not to become the next major tentpole franchise that Warner Bros has been seeking for.