IT scared the hell out of audiences in 2017, but its best creepy moment happened in the background of a scene, and may have been overlooked. While many would argue that 2019 sequel IT Chapter Two failed to match the quality of its predecessor, that doesn't mean we still can't look back and continue to love the first film. Raking in over $700 million worldwide on a budget of $35 million, IT was one of the most profitable horror films in recent memory, and transcended genre limitations to become a widespread pop culture phenomenon.
IT, directed by Andy Muschietti, was of course the second attempt at adapting Stephen King's beloved novel for the screen, although the first to play in theaters. This gave it a lot more resources to work with than the 1990 TV miniseries starring Tim Curry, leading to much more complex scare scenes, and the freedom to have Pennywise transform into more things. As good as Bill Skarsgard is as Pennywise itself, the ancient IT creature's other disguises were an extremely cool element of the book that didn't really get explored much in the miniseries.
The Losers' Club gets scared in many creative ways in IT, which makes sense, as their fear is a sort of seasoning for when Pennywise ultimately devours them. However, the best scare in IT actually takes place in the background, and there's a good chance many viewers missed it on first glance.
IT's Best Scare Happens in the Background
One of the oddest changes made from the IT book and miniseries to the 2017 movie was the change to having Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) be the Loser obsessed with Derry's history, as opposed to Mike Hanlon. This change was made all the stranger by the decision to still have Mike be the group's "lighthouse keeper" that draws them back to Derry, a natural progression from being the Losers' Club historian. Still, this plot change explains why partway through the first IT, Ben finds himself sitting in the Derry public library, doing research into the town's tragic past.
As Ben begins to flip through a book just handed to him by a librarian, that's where things begin to get weird. A different librarian, who was briefly seen sorting things on a bookshelf in the background prior to this point, quietly turns to look straight at Ben as he turns pages. The images Ben sees in the book begin to grow more upsetting, and then the librarian is shown leering at Ben with a creepy smile, having moved considerably toward camera. After Ben gets to the shocking picture of a boy's decapitated head, the librarian is shown again in the background, almost looking like she's enjoying Ben's terror.
A balloon then appears to lead Ben down to the records room, but if one looks closely, the menacing background librarian has vanished from the spot she just occupied. Before Ben heads downstairs, the librarian is then seen back doing her job sorting books like she was at the beginning. The whole sequence is bone-chillingly creepy, and made all the more so by the fact that it isn't explained. Does that librarian even actually exist, or is it just a Pennywise manifestation? If she does exist, the librarian is never seen being normal and frightening at the same time, begging the question of whether Pennywise is somehow controlling her mind for a bit. Yet another reason to continue to love and re-watch IT.