Cary Fukanaga’s adaptation of Stephen King’s It has just arrived in theaters, and by all accounts the legendary story of seven kids battling an immortal avatar of evil has been reconstructed nearly flawlessly on the silver screen. However, there are several scenes in the source material that defy the very laws of a visual medium like film, and at least one that is unfilmable for a different reason altogether.
The scene in question is the one that people are generally referring to when they use the phrase “that scene.” So why all the pussy-footing around? What is it about this scene that has fans of It so close-mouthed? Well, to get into that, we’re going to have to unpack the scene a bit to explore what makes it so troubling and disturbing, which we’ll do in a quick moment here.
First though, a brief warning, as the scene I’m about to describe may be uncomfortable reading for some folks (hell, I’d be more concerned if a description of this scene didn’t make you uncomfortable, but either way, you’ve been warned).
Okay, still here? Then buckle up, because the scene we’re talking about involves a disturbing sexual encounter that the seven main characters of the story share in the sewers below Derry, Maine, where It takes place. Now as odd as this might sound already, there are a number of troubling issues that serve to further cloud the scene in question and its place in the plot of It. First of all, the kids in question truly are kids. At the tender age of 11, a group sexual encounter in the sewers of all places (because nothing gets the old libido going like a dark, slimy place that reeks of human waste) is not something that most readers were expecting to run into in this tale of an endless battle against an unstoppable evil force. Second — and even more troubling — is that there’s only one girl among their number: Beverly. So all six of the boys take a turn, one after the other, losing their virginity to Beverly, at her suggestion. That’s right, there’s a good reason no one wants to talk about what is essentially a gang bang involving pre-teens.
So, if you haven’t read the novel and are wondering why the scene has such an infamous reputation, you can consider the matter essentially closed…except for one thing, of course, that might still be lingering in your mind, even with full knowledge of the events: why is this scene in the story to begin with?
Well, a mild spoiler follows, so here is your warning to that effect… Okay, once again, if you’re still here, let’s continue.
After the kids defeat the monster, It, they find themselves lost in the sewers of Derry, unable to find their way out. It’s at this point that Beverly makes the suggestion that they can all lose their virginity to her in order to bond them all together again so that they will have the strength to escape…or something.
So yeah, sex magic I guess? In all seriousness, Stephen King himself has explained the scene as a sort of metaphor for the end of childhood, and that having faced their greatest fears, the Loser’s Club — as the central cast tend to call themselves — are entering adulthood. Still, even with that flimsy caveat, the scene is far more trouble than it’s worth, and it’s no surprise that it won’t feature in Cary Fukanaga’s adaptation, just as it was an easy cut for the original It miniseries.
I mean, even if we wanted to play devil’s advocate for a moment, how exactly would one go about filming a scene like this? First of all, you’d have to stop your horror film DEAD, right after the climax of the film. Then you’d have to film six more climaxes (sorry) that absolutely no one wants to see.
Really though, try to imagine it! It’s utterly insane when you even begin to look at the logistics of it. First you’d have to make it appear as though 6 boys and 1 girl were naked, without them actually being naked. Then you’d have to carefully film around the scene, while parents and protective services observed, to simulate 6 separate acts of sex between minors. Look, if this were Larry Clark or Woody Allen directing, maybe they’d find a way to make it work, but for any reasonable person, there’s no way this scene ever makes it past the cutting room floor, or even the eyes of a script editor for that matter.
But hey, don’t let that deter you from exploring the source material for It, should you enjoy the film, as it’s truly a fantastic read, even with the overwhelming weirdness of the above scene lingering in your gray matter. Either way, whether you decide to plunge into Stephen King’s sizable 1138-page odyssey, or whether this article will be your only trip down that particular rabbit hole, you’ll definitely be wishing you could forget about “that scene,” one way or another.