Movie Reviews

Why Stephen King's Pennywise Prequel Will Be Darker Than It

By being a prequel, Welcome to Derry will necessarily be far darker in tone than 2017’s blockbuster hit It. It is tricky for movie adaptations of Stephen King’s work to nail the unusual balance between horror, humor, and character-driven drama found in the author’s acclaimed work. The fact that Robin Williams almost played The Shining’s Jack Torrance proves that even well-regarded adaptations of King’s work can almost tread into an unintentionally comedic territory and end up losing the delicate balance that makes their source material so effective.

Set in the ’60s, Welcome to Derry is set to explore Pennywise’s existence before he encounters the movie adaptation’s Losers Club in the ’80s. In addition to Pennywise’s origins, the It prequel series from HBO Max will likely focus on another group of Derry residents forced to deal with the evil entity. However, viewers already know the fate of Pennywise leading into It’s two-part movie adaptation, and this could be a major problem for the prequel series.

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It’s prequel is guaranteed to be darker than the original It movies since viewers already know that Pennywise makes it out alive and his victims likely don’t. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that a Pennywise prequel series is a bad idea, it does mean that Welcome to Derry will likely be a lot less fun than its franchise predecessors. Without introducing a new set of misfit teens for Pennywise to torment and terrorize, the prequel can’t effectively recreate the tone of the original. However, if the prequel series does replace the Losers’ Club, this won’t work either as, since this is a prequel, viewers would know from the jump any lovable new characters are doomed to failure in taking down the monstrous being.

This would make their character arcs pointless, a tricky problem for Welcome to Derry to overcome. The best idea would likely be to make the series a much darker look at the titular town, but this has its problems too. Much like Alice Cooper’s Nightmare On Elm Street cameo fell flat because fans of an already-dark horror franchise didn’t need to see the villain’s abusive youth, showing too much of Derry’s miserable small-town existence could put off viewers.

With sociopathic school bullies, corrupt cops, an uncaring populace, and abusive parents, the Derry of the It movies was already a grim setting. What stopped this misery from being overwhelming and off-putting was the charming camaraderie between the young cast, something Welcome To Derry can’t recreate since the show’s cast is doomed to die at Pennywise’s hand. How the upcoming series will manage to work around this storytelling issue remains to be seen, but regardless of the storytelling route that the show’s creators take, It’s prequel Welcome to Derry is bound to be bleaker than the more accessible movies.

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