Stephen King has been one of the greats of literature since the early 1970s when “Carrie” was first published, and the legacy of his work on the big screen further proves his tremendous pop culture prominence. After all, it was only three years after that seminal novel came out that Brian De Palma directed an adaptation that is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. Hollywood has now been mining his work for decades, and it continues to this day.
Case in point, both Andres Muschietti’s IT CHAPTER TWO and Mike Flanagan’s DOCTOR SLEEP are hitting theatres this fall, and they're both set up as epic sequels to brilliant predecessors. Expectations are high, but the films are prepared to meet them, particularly by featuring many of the most important elements that any Stephen King movie should have. Sure, there is a lot variety in the author’s body of work, but it’s this material that has truly made him a legend.
One of Stephen King’s great talents is writing about children who are a bit wise beyond their years. Sometimes it’s terrifying, like CHILDREN OF THE CORN; sometimes it’s awesome, like FIRESTARTER; and sometimes it's incredibly relatable, like STAND BY ME. Of course, there are few better examples than the Loser’s Club from IT — all set to return in IT CHAPTER TWO — but audiences will also meet the gifted Kyliegh Curran's Abra Stone in DOCTOR SLEEP.
Shocking, Affecting Imagery
Not all Stephen King stories fit in the horror genre, but there’s no denying that they are his specialty, and the best adaptations bring to life his nightmarish imagery in ways that leave a permanent stamp. We’ll never forget what happens to Paul Sheldon’s ankles in MISERY or how CARRIE uses her powers during prom while dripping with pig’s blood. We imagine that many Pennywise cameos will be conjured in people’s dreams after IT CHAPTER TWO arrives in the fall.
At Least a Touch of the Supernatural
Movies like THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and DOLORES CLAIBORNE are Stephen King adaptations that are more about the horrors of real life, but one of the classic elements of the author’s works is at the very least a touch of the supernatural. THE DEAD ZONE and THE GREEN MILE are good examples of simpler approaches, while the comedic horrors of MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE or the town-spanning evil of Derry, Maine, in IT are broader. And speaking of Derry …
The Comforts of New England
There are a couple of notable exceptions here, including THE SHINING and STAND BY ME, but Stephen King’s stories are famous for taking place in sleepy New England towns, with the author regularly showing a lot of love to his home state of Maine. Almost every single movie based on one of King’s books are set in the Northeast of the United States, regularly featuring calm, peaceful life interrupted by unspeakable horror. Movies like CUJO and THE MIST wouldn’t be the same without these settings.
A Lurking Evil
Many Stephen King terrors are right up in your face with their evil, like the possessed car in CHRISTINE or the psychotic Annie Wilkes in MISERY, but what makes a lot of his best stories sing is a more pervasive evil that lurks in both the atmosphere and in humanity. The influence of the titular graveyard in PET SEMATARY endlessly provides chills, while in a different way, there is the realistic awfulness of the titular prison in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. What’s great about IT and IT CHAPTER TWO is that they really get to dabble in both arenas, with Pennywise as evil personified, but his possession of Derry always palpable even when he’s not on screen.
IT CHAPTER TWO will be in AMC theatres everywhere on September 6, and tickets are on sale now. Get yours today on our website or mobile app.