We Need To Talk About Stephen King’s Messed-Up Ending To ‘It’
This post discusses the end of the movie IT. Spoilers ahead!
When it comes to turning books into blockbuster movies, ignoring crucial elements of the source material is usually a fast way to piss off fans. Usually, but not always.
Right now, Stephen King adaptation IT is in cinemas everywhere — the flick just had the biggest opening weekend for a horror film ever, pulling in a cool USD$180 million globally.
But if you’ve previously made it all the way through King’s 1100-page epic, you’ll notice that the ending to the movie doesn’t go quite the way it does in the book. And no one’s complaining.
Why? Well, in the end of the movie, the Losers’ Club defeat It with some makeshift weapons and by conquering their fear. In the end of the book, the Losers’ Club defeat It by… all having a deeply problematic child orgy.
Stephen King devotes an entire chapter in It to a scene where 11-year-old Beverly Marsh decides the only way to unify the group and make it out of the sewers alive is to have sex with every boy in the Losers’ Club, one by one. If it sounds like it makes no fucking sense, that’s because it doesn’t.
There’s more! King is even so kind as to tell us that one character (Ben, if you were wondering) is so well-endowed that it gives Beverly her first orgasm. Yeah, no.
Thankfully director Andy Muschetti didn’t think that scene needed to make the movie. “I think the whole story… approaches the theme of growing up, and the group sex episode in the book is a bit of a metaphor of the end of childhood and into adulthood. And I don’t think it was really needed in the movie, apart that it was very hard to allow us to shoot an orgy in the movie,” he told Collider this year.
“And in the end, the replacement for it is the scene with the blood oath, where everyone sort of says goodbye.”
Stephen King, however, still doesn’t really understand why that scene has readers so strung out. “I wasn’t really thinking of the sexual aspect of it,” he explained on a message board back in 2013. “The book dealt with childhood and adulthood –1958 and Grown Ups… the sexual act connected childhood and adulthood. It’s another version of the glass tunnel that connects the children’s library and the adult library.
“Times have changed since I wrote that scene and there is now more sensitivity to those issues.”
When Vulture contacted King for comment this year, he stood by the ending: “I’d just add that it’s fascinating to me that there has been so much comment about that single sex scene and so little about the multiple child murders. That must mean something, but I’m not sure what.”
Steve, mate — it might have something to do with the misogynist undertones and the fact that you described, in great detail, an 11-year-old girl having group sex.
Good movie, though.