The new hit adaptation of Stephen King’s It is crawling with Easter eggs. They reference other King novels — like lycanthropic claws that play into Richie’s fear of werewolves — and other pop culture classics, such as that car from Christine on Eddie’s shirt and that grotesque scene in which the corpse of Patrick Hockstetter emerges from a mattress and then sinks back into it, channeling the victims of A Nightmare on Elm Street who are attacked in their dreams.
Some of these Easter eggs creep into even deeper and darker places. You may glimpse something that could be mistaken for a passing reference (or mean nothing at all for those who are unfamiliar with the King multiverse), but actually opens the portal to sinister events that overshadow next year’s sequel. That LEGO turtle Bill drops in panic is more than plastic. And that burst of unnatural light that almost blinded Beverly behind the rows and rows of teeth that Pennywise reveals when he has her in a death grip? It’s not in her head.
If you look further down the sewer, you will find into an entire multiverse whose veins pulse and throb with the same horrors that haunt the not-so-idyllic town of Derry and bleed through to events that already loom over the second film.
You might have not thought much of the LEGO turtle that slipped through Bill’s fingers and smashed to the floor when he thought he heard something more than just rain pounding on the windows. You might have not even caught the mention of a turtle at the bottom of the lake where the Losers’ Club were all swimming in their underwear. Sometimes it’s the things you just glimpse or don’t even see that can be major foreshadowing for something much darker.
This particular turtle plays into Stephen King’s warped multiverse as much more than just a symbol or even a talisman. Something may start to click if you know anything about the mythology of the The Dark Tower. You may even vaguely remember these lines that were much more than just New York graffiti: See the TURTLE of enormous girth/on his back he holds the Earth. Maturin the turtle is one of the twelve cyborg-gods guarding the beams that hold up the Dark Tower — and with it, every universe that ever existed.
So what does that have to do with a remote town in Maine whose paranormal deniers sure don’t worship enormous half-animal, half-machine deities? Maturin emerged from the primordial ooze of the Macroverse (Todash Darkness for all you diehard The Dark Tower fans) before the creation of the mainstream universe, which he later vomited out — along with the malevolent entity known as It. This thing was Maturin’s nemesis even before it clawed its way out of void.
It usually manifests as a murderous clown in the film. We know that much. Besides being an almost indestructible entity that crawled out of the guts of Maturin, is there more to his identity than fangs and greasepaint?
Deadlights are an ancient and potent magic that writhed with It out of the Macroverse. When Bev found her throat in the white gloves of Pennywise, his deadlights were the source of that terrifying blast of light from the depths of It’s throat. This illuminates the supernatural powers we can expect to see more of in IT: Chapter Two.
There has been an eternal fan theory about It actually being one of the many manifestations of the Red King, even though all that is supposed to exist of this deranged Santa Claus character is a pair of eyes floating around in the shadows of the Dark Tower like glowing red coals. Even then, some argue, he is somehow still able to send out versions of himself to terrorize people in both the world he exists in and every other one he can reach. There’s just one problem. It doesn’t know anything of the omniscient and all-powerful Gan, and It's only concern is Itself and the threat of Maturin. Could he be one of the Red King’s minions? Maybe he escaped when his ruler went insane and killed them all. Think about it — there was another who did.
Then there’s even the more twisted theory that whatever remains of the Red King’s spirit is able to enter It through its deadlights. Leave that in the realm of theory. For now.
Besides the human blood and fears on which It gorges during the two time periods the book and the films (at least the second film) move back and forth between, it has been rising from the eldritch depths to feed for millennia. No one knows where It lurked before the Derry sewer system unknowingly gave it an automatic luxury apartment complex to stash its murder trophies, but we do know it has haunted the town for as long as it existed.
You first get a fleeting glimpse of that unmistakable clown face as Ben Hanscom is flipping through the black-and-white pages of Derry history in the library. It’s the sort of thing that makes you want to convince yourself your eyes are playing tricks on you, that it’s just the blur of old pictures that morphs into those burning eyes and John Wayne Gacy grin. Then you realize that Pennywise is on every page, and so are the murders and massacres that stain Derry’s past. That might be when you notice who is looking back at you from that mural behind Quality Meats.
The mural is supposed to be a tribute to the victims of the Bradley Gang, who shed even more blood during an earlier It rampage, though it’s hard to take even a tribute seriously when you look under one of the antique Model-T wheels and get an eyeful of that clown face. This is only a splatter of endless past horrors incited by just as many nightmarish manifestations of It, which could be ripped open in the second film.
The turtle couldn’t save us
If you were brave enough to stick around in a dark theater a few minutes longer until after the end credits, you would have heard Pennywise’s maniacal laugh echoing in the darkness, which can only mean that Beverly’s supposedly lethal strike didn’t vaporize him. The turtle really didn’t save them.
The members of the Losers’ Club only thought they could leave the trauma of the past in the sewer until that fateful phone call from Bill Denbrough 27 years later. There is one in particular for whom dredging up these memories from the grave may have been too much. If you’ve seen unnerving rumors about Stan floating around the internet, there is something to his repeating The turtle couldn’t save us in the novel.This is a flashback to the Losers’ encounter with It, and critical events that happened in the summer of 1989 which the first movie kept in the dark, one of which was a Lovecraftian ritual that invoked something the Losers’ Club needed then — and will need in the future.
That ritual included the same controversial scene as cut out of both versions of IT because of things that kids in junior high just shouldn’t be doing (though they probably do them anyway). With or without that scene, Maturin is critical to destroying the demon in the clown suit. Those turtle glimpses whisper of a powerful force that will be needed to take down the clown even before It begins Its reign of terror. Even then, there’s a reason the members of the Losers’ Club leave in the order they do after their blood oath.
If you really let IT lure you into its murky waters, you will start to see things that will make you swear you’re seeing things. Questions to your sanity may haunt you. If you find yourself always sleeping with the light on, you may have to read the book if you can’t wait another year to find out whether or not it’s just your imagination.