Following this scene, we see the characters of Richie (Bill Hader) and Eddie (James Ransone) petrified by Pennywise, a shape-shifting creature known as a Glamour, following them; they open a door and are greeted by a cute Pomeranian dog, creating an air of bathos. Here, we have a conflict of genres as the primary classification of this film is a horror however, we see comedic elements. This takes place at a time of high tension and the dog enables the pacing of the film to slow down as the audience can laugh at the absurdity of the situation. We know the dog is cute because of the downward facing camera angle which accentuates its small, unthreatening stature, greeting them calmly in the centre of the shot showing obedience. This idea of bathos and subversion makes the viewer have a release of dramatic tension and fear and creates a lighter, comedic atmosphere. The camera angle pointing downwards towards the adorable dog shows the immediate power balance within the scene; Richie and Eddie are in control and this is further established when Richie tells the dog to ‘sit’ and it obeys accordingly so, here they feel safe and in turn the viewer reciprocates the feeling.
Moreover, this shot shows the dog in the single torchlight cast by the characters, while the mise-en-scene surrounding it is complete blackness. The use of a handheld light source signifies their assumed control and that the dog is not dangerous due to its illuminated presence in this dank environment; it shows optimism and hope as it is an ethereal beacon within the darkness. However, they fail to completely light up the room signifying their lack of dominance as the torch cannot illuminate everything. Contrasting with earlier in the scene, when they opened the first door, a pull-chord switch was used to brighten the room. After using the environment’s artificial lighting, they beheld a sentient and gruesome pair of legs which scares the characters. This highlights the difference between objects which can be manipulated by Pennywise and the objects the characters can distinguish are corporeal and real, giving the characters a fake sense of authority using animals and lighting surrounding them.
Despite this, shortly after this momentary bliss the viewer has accumulated, their expectations are reverted again. This is by shifting the dog into a manipulated and frightening looking version of itself with a larger form than its previous counterpart, regressing back into typical horror tropes.
The camera angle changes from their previous eyeline shot to a higher standing one as if we are looking up at this beast with them. This change is swift and makes the character’s scared once again because their trust in this animal has been betrayed and used against them in order to humiliate and intimidate them. We see this in the still as their facial expressions convey fear and they are quickly attempting to shut the door to entrap the creature. This is jarring because of the abrupt change from good to evil; it puts the characters and the viewer back in a fearful mindset. Using a domesticated dog specifically would affect the characters psychologically through warped perceptions of nostalgia and memories; most people have attached positive experiences with dogs as they would have encountered or owned a pet dog. These memories will be forever tainted as this experience blurs the line between senses of safety and fear by using something beloved to induce immense fear. So, as the comedy/ horror balance in this scene unfolds, the audience can laugh at the character’s fear response and the absurdity of using unthreatening animals amidst the scary location and situation to intimidate them.
‘IT Chapter 2 (2019) 9/10 Three Doors’, YouTube video, added by MovieClips <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpmLnHjI0BM&t=28s> [date accessed 08/01/2021]