Stephen King’s IT was published on September 16th, 1986, clocking in at 1,138 pages or 458,263 words. Since then it has remained a controversial classic. And yet the book is a standard horror thriller — albeit one of the best ever written — until the confrontation with the titular creature.
It is this stretch of pages that seem to garner the most attention when people bring up the novel, particularly those who have not read it but only heard secondhand about the questionable stinger. Suffice to say there is a strange scene that resolves the central conflict, which I will not spoil here. that some people consider being a little sick.
They think it says something about King’s psyche. However, it’s purely the result of King not outlining his books.
The man writes himself into corners. This leads him to various high concept hijinks: a literal deus ex machina with The Stand, writing himself into The Dark Tower novel, or in this case via — what to call it — a love scene involving children. At times he must go to extremes because the plot hasn’t been thought out when he’s writing by feel. It’s not like writing a mystery where the evidence or plot construction build to a logical conclusion.
King writes fantasy stories and as such his books don’t really need to make “sense.” Or at least the payoffs don’t have the frisson of puzzle pieces fitting together. As long as he can come up with something wild enough to stick the landing dramatically then that’s what he will write. Such is the case with IT.
I bring this up because the second installment of the IT theatrical series is hard upon us directed by Andy Muschietti. Coming to theaters on September 4, 2019, and with a halfway decent cast and this mildly intriguing trailer:
The first film made a lot of money, especially for a King adaptation. It made such a cultural impact it even got exposure at Universal Studios.
With that said it is probable that we won’t be seeing the aforementioned scene play out anything like the way it does in the novel. This explains why there was such a flurry of stories about “controversial” scenes that would be included in the new adaptation which didn’t make it into the miniseries back in the 1990s.
These scenes didn’t seem particularly controversial to me when I read them, but I think the idea is to deflect attention from what we won’t be seeing in the new film, namely Beverly getting it from fat Ben in a sewer. Which is all well and good.
But now with the success of IT comes the news that Muschietti and King will be reteaming for a new project, this time with Muschietti serving as producer. This won’t be based on another one of King’s behemoths but instead something from his intriguing back catalog of Bachman books.
If you don’t know, Richard Bachman was a pen name used by King so he could put out stuff that was outside of his brand, which was exclusively in the horror genre at the time. He wrote a number of thrillers under this name before being outed as the author in 1985.
Some of these books have already been adapted to the silver screen such as Thinner (1996), which bombed at the box office with only $15.6 million in receipts amidst dismal reviews.
The new project is an adaptation of the Bachman book called Roadwork.
“Roadwork is a novel by American writer Stephen King, published in 1981 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman as a paperback original. It was collected in 1985 in the hardcover omnibus The Bachman Books, which is no longer in print. However, three of the four novels in that collection – Roadwork, The Long Walk, and The Running Man – have since been reprinted as standalone titles.”
The story takes place in an unnamed Midwestern city during 1973–1974. Grieving over the death of his son and the disintegration of his marriage, a man is driven to mental instability when he learns that both his home and his workplace will be demolished to make way for an extension to an interstate highway.
The book is not typical King genre-fare whatsoever. There are no horror elements to it. So it’s interesting that Muschietti would choose this project when he’s had success with more thematically horror-oriented material in IT.
The film is to be directed by someone named Pablo Trapero. I have never heard of him but don’t let that fool you, he’s apparently a huge deal in the Argentine film community and has won plaudits at the Venice International Film Festival. I’ve included a trailer her of Mr. Trapero’s most recent work and it looks miserable. Just kidding, it looks OK.
Filming on Roadwork is expected to begin early next year.