The Murder of Adrian Mellon

September 14, 2019

Author’s Note: As some of you may already know, we have an enduring love for the 90’s IT miniseries and the novel it was based on. While we try to give a fair shake to every film we talk about here at TFG, we recognized that an implicit bias may exist when it comes to this particular film. Also, there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

Adrian Mellon deserved so much better.

The opening sequence of IT: Chapter 2 covers the hate crime murder that seems to spark the new cycle of IT’s violence. It is brutal and hard to watch, even more so in knowing that when writing the novel, King had based the crime on the real-life murder of 23-year-old Charlie Howard in Bangor, Maine. While the scene serves an important purpose in the novel, in the film it is portrayed with startlingly real ultraviolence and given absolutely no resolution. The senseless beating and the anguished cries of Adrian’s partner, Don, cut viewers to the quick. It’s difficult to watch, even before the film’s titular creature joins the fray.

Adrian Mellon deserved better.

The murder is not without purpose; it serves, in the novel, to portray the sickness that runs rampant in Derry, the infection of IT that affects everyone in the town. The ordinary evil of the townspeople, even the police officers who arrest John “Webby” Garton and his friends who can’t take Don’s deep-seated grief seriously, is important to portray to the reader [and here, the viewer] that Derry is a dark and dirty place. There’s something intrinsically wrong with the sleepy New England town, and this murder is meant to illustrate that.

But Garton and his friends never see an interrogation room, at least not in the film. Rather we see their glee at brutalizing Adrian and forcing Don to watch, and their quick escape into the night with absolutely no retribution for what they had done. It’s violence for the sake of violence and there is nothing to indicate that Pennywise’s presence after Adrian’s battered body is tipped over the side of the bridge is anything but opportunistic.

Adrian Mellon deserved justice. That fact that IT: Chapter 2 instead gives viewers what amounts to an opening snuff film is extremely problematic, and takes away all meaning from what at least served a purpose in the novel. The brutalization of a gay man simply for the shock value is cheap, tawdry, and completely revolting.

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