The Worst Thing Jessica Chastain Had To Do For It: Chapter Two

Adapting the other half of Stephen King's classic horror novel, "It: Chapter Two" follows the now-grown Losers Club when one of their own calls them back to Derry, Maine to destroy the shapeshifting, man-eating entity that tormented them as children: Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Set 27 years after the original 2017 film, Pennywise, or "It" as the creature is commonly called, awakens from his long slumber with a burning vengeance after the Losers previously defeated It in battle.

Though this sequel wasn't as profitable or as well-received as the original, its predecessor's massive success allowed director Andy Muschietti to go bigger with the sequel's scares. One frightening scene, in particular, proved itself especially challenging to film. 

In the film's final battle, the Losers travel beneath Derry to face Pennywise, who in turn makes them face their biggest fears. For Beverly, portrayed by Jessica Chastain, this involves getting trapped in an illusion that takes the form of the school bathroom stall she hid in as a child. However, this dream turns into a Freudian nightmare as the stall begins to fill with an endless surge of blood. This moment is itself a follow-up to how Pennywise exploited her fear of womanhood by shooting a geyser of blood from her bathroom in the first film.

This claustrophobic scene is grisly and difficult to watch, especially as many people from Beverly's life, including her abusive father and her school bullies, are heard banging on the door, yelling at her. It is hands-down one the scariest sequences in a film filled with scares, and it was a huge challenge for Chastain to film.

A nightmare behind-the-scene

According to an article in Vanity Fair, filming this one scene required Chastain to get completely covered in about 4,500 gallons of fake blood, bobbing in and out of the red pool as she clings to life. Though this is a staggering amount, it pales in comparison to the alleged 50,000 gallons used for the final scene of Fede Alvarez's "Evil Dead" reboot, in which blood rains from the sky. But it's not like Chastain felt any difference — she was still splashing about in a ton of blood.

In the Vanity Fair piece, Chastain recounted her hellish experience performing the scene while swimming in the red stuff. "It was really disgusting," she said. "It's like slime, and it was up my nose, in my ears, and stuck on my eyeballs. I kind of did have some little fears, but I was happy to do it."

Nobody can blame her for getting upset. To make the movie's climax, Chastain had to be immersed in fake blood for hours, even when the cameras weren't rolling, without getting the chance to clean herself up. "I admit that was the only miserable part," she said: 

"Andy had me dressed in blood for the whole end of the film. Before every take, they had a small kiddie pool filled with the cold blood, and [they'd] pour it on me."

For what's it's worth, Chastain just took home an Academy Award for Best Actress earlier this year. We like to think it was really for putting up with this scene.

A performance paid with blood

Despite the challenges of making this bload-soaked scene, Chastain revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that she did not back down, choosing to push herself and the film to it's absolute best. "I was like, 'No, if we're going to do it, let's do it," she said: 

"I love horror films, I love Carrie, and I said, 'Let's make Carrie on steroids.' And that's what we did, and it literally tortured me because I didn't realize that it would be that way the whole movie."

This is a pretty bold statement coming from Chastain, given how Stephen King's stories, including "Carrie," have led to some notoriously bloody scenes being put to film, most notably the elevator scene from "The Shining." Audiences can definitely see the influence both of these King films have had on this scene, as Beverly gets trapped in a bathroom like Wendy Torrance while getting drowned in blood and terrorized by multiple people from her teenage years. Henry Bowers even barges in and screams "Here's Johnny" like Jack Torrance for good measure.

In the end, the bloody trap that Beverly had to escape seems to have blown some of these past King scenes out of the water in terms of sheer volume of gore. Though "It: Chapter Two" isn't as acclaimed as the first film, Beverly's bathroom scene will no doubt go down as one of the bloodiest scenes in cinema history, and it was only elevated by Chastain's committed and convincing performance.