Does 'It' Stand Up to Scrutiny on Second Viewing?

'It' is so nice that it's worth seeing twice, but when viewers are ready for the relentless terror, certain flaws become more glaring.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for It.]

The first time I saw It — Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema's adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 opus that has raked in a massive-for-its-modest-budget and record-breaking-for-a-September-release $218 million in its first 10 days in theaters — I had very few thoughts.

I had very few thoughts — in the same way that a man standing on a tall ladder who feels himself slowly tipping away from the wall and toward a concrete driveway has very few thoughts.

I was vaguely aware that the film had some flaws, but before I could devote more than a few seconds to the consideration of such, It would resume its relentless onslaught of pure terror. I left the theater worried about nightmares for the first time in decades, but determined to see the film again, if only to look around smugly at the other patrons white-knuckling their armrests.

So, this weekend I did see It again — adding my $13 to the film's second-weekend tally of $60 million — and now … I do have some thoughts. Premier among them is this: It is still one of the most entertaining, frightening, satisfying horror movies I've ever seen, but for a movie with a 135-minute running time, there's a lot left out. While I eagerly await the inevitable four-hour Blu-ray director's cut, here are five thoughts on It, on second viewing. 

What, exactly, are the limits of Pennywise's reach?

He can reach the town of Derry, Maine, sure, but is that it? In the film, it seems Pennywise can appear nearly anywhere to scare the crap out of you, but he only ever does physical damage in, or in very close proximity to, the sewers. Georgie, Patrick the pyro bully — even Bev, when she's abducted, it happens in the bathroom right next to, you know, that drain. But when asked if this was the case by Heat Vision editor Aaron Couch, screenwriter Gary Dauberman said he didn't see it that way. The only way the Losers can protect themselves, according to Dauberman, is to be together. But if that's the case, why didn't It kill Eddie in the yard of 29 Neibolt St.? No one came to his aid — as was the case with Ben in the library and Mike in the alley. And his parents weren't close at hand — as was the case when It showed up in Stan's dad's office, and Bill's flooded basement. If Pennywise can just snatch kids up at any time — as long as they're alone — why doesn't he? It never really bothers to provide an explanation for why It — insatiable, bloodthirsty child-eater — spends the majority of the movie playing with his food.

Bev getting damseled is an odd choice. 
Not least because her abduction establishes that Pennywise can just snatch up a kid out of his or her home at his leisure. But also because it's not in the book, or the 1990 TV movie version. And as a way of conveniently reuniting the Losers after their falling-out, it just seems kinda, I don't know, lazy? Like, It can't finish off scrawny-ass Eddie after two, essentially, free-throw attempts, but Bev — up to that point the film's most consistent badass — goes down without incident? Nah. Brick. 

Where did these kids learn to clean?

So let's review the situation here: In perhaps the least subtle allegory for female puberty ever, a geyser of blood rumbles up from the sink drain and covers Bev's bathroom floor to ceiling. OK. Somehow, she manages to get herself cleaned up without disturbing the blood, then tracks down the rest of the Losers' Club the next day to verify that she is not hallucinating Pennywise's gauche home makeover. All the dudes are like, "Yeah, this looks bad. We gotta clean it." Which they manage to do more efficiently than the crews on Hoarders while — and this is the kicker — not getting a single drop of blood on any of their outfits? Stanley was wearing a white polo tucked into khaki shorts! I'm all in on the teleporting, shape-shifting demon clown, but that whole sequence was too much, man. 

What's up with all the floating kids?

First off, I hear you, Ben: Kids go missing at (6 + x) times the national average, but man, there were a lot of kids floating above that tower of bikes and wagons! Like, at least 20. Is that one year's haul?! Even if the adults in the town don't care or block it out or whatever, if that many kids go missing, the kids are gonna start to care. All the kids, not just our plucky heroes. 

Second off, does It eat the kids or not? Because those floating kids looked mighty intact.

Third off, It disappears down the cistern and all the kids start floating down. Presumably they're dead. Or maybe they are alive, and those are the ones he's kidnapped but hasn't eaten yet (unlikely, intact though they may be)? Either way, that's a pretty major loose end. Are we to believe that none of the Losers came up from the sewer and told … anyone, "Hey, you know all those missing kids? We found them. They're right here (points to place on sewer map where It's lair is located) chilling around a massive pile of toys and demon feces. Mobilize the National Guard."

Yep, the bent-face flute lady is the creepiest thing of all time.

So the makeup and creature design was more impressive on second viewing, able as I was to examine it minus the opaque fog of panic. And yeah, Pennywise, in all his myriad incarnations and, uh, teeth arrangements, is impressive and grotesque and horrifying and just not the least bit disappointing ever. But oh boy, flute lady, for me, is on another level.

Stan! Let me just say — and, those of you who haven't read the book or seen the miniseries, stop reading — I don't blame you, buddy. I'd stay away, too.