SXSW: First Impressions of Exclusive ‘It’ and ‘Annabelle 2’ Footage
Earlier tonight, the SXSW panel Face Your Fears: An Exclusive First Look & Filmmaker Discussion gave attendees the honor of being the first to lay eyes on footage of the highly anticipated new adaptation of Stephen King’s It as well as new, exclusive footage to demonic doll sequel Annabelle 2. Both directors Andy Muschietti and David F. Sandberg were in attendance to discuss their projects as well as set up the clips.
Up first was what appeared to be a rough cut of the trailer for director Andy Muschietti’s It. As the film is still in post-production, Muschietti set up the footage by letting viewers know that the VFX in the clip was still not finished. It did nothing to detract from what the clip contained, however, which is pure nightmare fuel.
The clip opens with a scene that fans of the source novel will know well; Bill and Georgie and a fateful paper boat. The rest of the clip picks up speed through a montage of both familiar and new scenes, the ominous house on Neibolt Street, Beverly getting drenched by blood in her bathroom, and terrifying scenes of Pennywise that will ease the worry of anyone concerned about Bill Skarsgård’s version of the character.
Pennywise didn’t speak at all in the footage, but he made a huge impact regardless. Skarsgård has nailed the physical and visual aspect of the character, making his version of Pennywise feeling far more dangerous and menacing than before. There’s a visceral reaction of fear from the Loser’s club in one scene in the segment, and according to Muschietti that may not be acting at all. It turns out that he made the intentional decision to keep Skarsgård isolated from the child actors, save for an early table read, so the child actors became extremely terrified the moment Skarsgård arrived on set in full Pennywise costume.
As for the second clip, Muschietti wanted to give a taste of the bond between the Losers’ Club. It set up the gang’s introduction to Ben, the existing friendships among the boys, and their distinct personalities. These kids have nailed their respective characters.
Muschietti promised to keep the integrity of the novel, while offering new scenes and elements to surprise even the most die-hard fans. If this footage is any indication, not only will his film bring about mass coulrophobia and severe nightmares, but we’ll fall in love with the Losers’ Club all over again.
As for Annabelle 2, Sandberg set up the first clip by expanding upon the plot, which revolves around the demonic doll’s origin. Set in an orphanage for young girls, the home had fallen prey to demonic activity once before, the arrival of new girls brings about a new wave of activity. The first clip is an extended sequence that sees a girl’s curiosity get the better of her, by exploring an off-limits room full of toys. On the bed sits Annabelle, and she’s not a fan of the intrusion. What follows is a wave of increasing terror and wrought tension. The second clip is another scene set later in the film and is another long wind up of coiling fear. Sandberg’s set up? “This girl is trying to convince everyone to leave, but they’re all, ‘No, we can’t leave, we have to make it feature length.’”
The creepy doll herself has gotten a bit of a makeover for her second appearance. Sandberg and Wan had many discussions over the prequel/sequel, and Wan agreed that Annabelle’s initial appearance was too creepy to believably be coveted by any child. So, while still very creepy, she looks a bit less, well, hideous this go ‘round.
Both directors have a clear, life-long passion for the genre and it’s conveyed in their films. When an attendee asked about the taboo of killing children in film, considering both of their films revolve around kids, both directors proudly boasted that they do in their films. They then gleefully pointed out both films’ R-rating.
Judging by the footage revealed tonight, 2017 is going to be a hell of a year for horror. Annabelle 2 arrives in theaters on August 11, and It is set for release on September 11, 2017.