WARNING: The following contains spoilers for It: Chapter Two, in theaters now.
Director Andy Muschietti was always going to have a tough job on his hands condensing Stephen King's It from novel to a film. It was a lot to take in in the '90s miniseries, and so, Warner Bros. split the story into two movies, hoping to capture as much horror and drama as the source material, but still, properly adapted for the film medium. With tweaks made to the Losers Club, their roles in returning to Derry, as well as with the history of Pennywise itself, the most notable change, though, comes from Muschietti altering the deus ex machina of the story: the Ritual of Chüd.
WHAT IS THE RITUAL FROM THE BOOK?
After Pennywise defeats the Losers, young Bill does some research in the library on monster-killing and deduces this ritual, originating in the Himalayas, can be used to stop the demonic clown. He informs his friends and they perform it to fight Pennywise off, with Bill entering the "Macroverse," a mental plane to battle the entity.
As he approaches the Deadlights (the source of Pennywise's powers), Bill meets Maturin, a turtle on this astral plane who barfed out the universe. The turtle educates the boy on how to be mentally strong and rebuke his fears and loss of his brother, Georgie, harnessing all this to defeat the spider-version of the villain.
27 years later, as adults, Bill and Richie repeat this mental warfare, and while Pennywise is busy with them on the psychic front, Eddie attacks its physical form. The spider bites off his arm, mortally wounding him, but Pennywise suffers a huge blow, growing powerless. This allows the Losers to destroy his heart, triumphing at long last and ridding Derry of the being forever.
HOW IS IT ALTERED FOR THE FILM?
Firstly, there's no Maturin here. Well, not in turtle form, because Mike discovers the ritual as he knew Pennywise would return 27 years later from their battle as kids. He studied with the Native Americans who inhabited Derry first and went through a hallucinogenic trip with them, understanding how Pennywise fell to Earth in a comet and how the land's original inhabitants first tried to kill him with a leather container and this ritual.
Mike later drugs Bill using the Maturin root from the Native Americans so he too sees the ritual needed to end Pennywise's life. However, this requires a sacrifice of tokens from their past. Mike uses a stone Bev flung to stave off some bullies; Bill uses Georgie's iconic paper boat; Eddie tosses his inhaler into the vessel; Rich offers the deceased Stan's shower cap from their clubhouse and a video game taken from when he realized he was gay; Bev throws in a love note from Ben; while Ben throws his yearbook note from Bev into the flame.
They all chant "Turn light into dark" in a battle of wills against Pennywise until the three orbs of the Deadlights are sucked into the vessel, thus nullifying Pennywise's corporeal form on the planet. Mike realizes it's time to seal it off and kill it for good, surpassing what the Native Americans tried to do centuries ago.
DOES IT WORK, THOUGH?
Sadly, the ritual is a total flop. Mike hid that Pennywise murdered all the Native Americans with his clawed-legs, surmising that they didn't believe they could kill the creature. He urges his friends to believe, as that's the missing ingredient, which is basically the turtle's principle in the lore. Oddly enough, Maturin was seen as a statue in Ben's classroom when he revisited it mentally, so it's only fitting the turtle does get to cameo.
This ritual then goes from dud to Chüd, with Eddie impaling the creature with an iron poker (metal was its weakness in the novel), and as the Losers start believing Pennywise isn't a monster but a coward and child, his form reverts into a frail kid whose heart they pluck out and squash, murdering him for good. Sadly, a spider's leg impales Eddie, and he bleeds out like in the novel.
Muschietti grounded the wild horror here, because having the turtle and the astral battle might have resulted in bit of a convoluted plot. Eventually, though, the ritual is well subverted and sticks to the essence of what King wrote, encapsulating the purpose and overall effect of his '80s novel.
It: Chapter Two stars Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, Jess Weixler, Will Beinbrink, Xavier Dolan, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff and Nicholas Hamilton.