Warning: This post contains spoilers for the ending of IT: Chapter Two. Obviously.
Millennia ago, a force of evil known as IT crash-landed in Derry, Maine. Ever since humans appeared above its lair, IT has been on a schedule of “wake, wreak havoc on local population, repeat.” Can a bunch of 40-year-olds put a stop to IT’s cycle of destruction? As we see in IT Chapter Two, the answer is yes — but it comes at a cost.
We’ve always known the recent IT duology would not be a word-for-word adaptation of Stephen King’s 1300-page novel. If they were, then the first IT (2017) would have included an orgy in the sewers between the preteen-aged Losers’ Club (really), and I'd still be sitting in the movie theater.
But the book and movies’ differences are especially highlighted in the final showdown between the adult Losers’ Club and the force of evil wrapped up in a clown costume that has tormented them for decades. IT Chapter Two and King’s book take two approaches to the Ritual of Chud. In the book, it’s a rock’n’ roll show-down that involves a jaunt to the multiverse. In the movie, it’s a walk down memory lane in the sewers.
Both versions of the Rituals of Chud work — but not quite as expected.
What is the Ritual of Chud in IT by Stephen King?
Are you holding on to your laptop? Cause this is wild.
Briefly, the Ritual of Chud in the book has three steps. One: Get a force of evil (like IT) to start laughing. Two: Bite down on its tongue. Three: Hang on for dear life as becoming linked to a monster takes you deep into King’s multiverse.
This cosmic ritual happens twice in King’s book; both instances involve trips through the cosmos. The Losers’ Club ultimately defeating IT by stomping IT while in its true spider-form, then killing all its eggs. Sadly, that is not what happens in the movie.
What is the Ritual of Chud in IT Chapter Two?
Ask Mike Hanlon (Isaiaha Mustafa) — he’s an expert.
For the past 27 years, Mike has remained in his hometown of Derry, Maine waiting for the return of Pennywise. Mike knows he’s fated to encounter IT again — even if his six friends who moved away have completely forgotten their blood oath to return.
After studying the history of Derry, the universe, and everything, Mike’s concluded a Native American ritual is the only way to kill Pennywise. The Ritual of Chud is illustrated on an artifact which Mike stole (!) from the tribe. After summoning the Losers’ Club back to Derry, they all collect beloved artifacts to use during the ritual. Then, clutching their belongings, they head to the sewers.
It turns out Mike is keeping a secret. The first Ritual of Chud performed by the Native American tribe failed disastrously; IT killed them all. Mike thought belief would protect the Losers’ Club, but he was wrong. After burning all their artifacts in the Ritual of Chud, the Losers’ Club successfully put IT in a box. But since nobody puts IT in a corner. He breaks out and continues to torment them.
Things turn around after IT, in its truest spider-form, kills Eddie (James Ransone). Eddie is the second member of the Losers’ Club to die; Stanley (Andy Bean) was too afraid to return to Derry and took his own life earlier.
The Losers’ Club is devastated. They’re also fed-up. They kill IT when they stop being scared of of IT. And that, dear children, is how a few adults beat an ancient, sewer-dwelling force of evil with the equivalent of saying, “Hey! Pick on someone your own size!”
Seriously? That’s how they kill IT?
Yes, the Losers’ Club defeats an ancient force of evil by calling him names until its power diminishes. Sort of anti-climactic. Sort of ridiculous. The image of IT Benjamin Buttoning his way toward the fetal position doesn’t help with taking the scene seriously.
The ending does make sense, though, when you factor in IT’s extreme narcissism. IT derives power from people’s fear, not just from consuming their bodies. IT’s whole M.O. is embodying your own personal fear. For Bev (Jessica Chastain), it’s home — a place that’s supposed to be one of comfort — being constantly distorted into a place of discomfort. For Bill (James McAvoy), it’s his brother, Georgie, an emblem of his inability to save all of IT’s victims.
So the Losers’ Club’s decision to no longer feel fear at the site of IT? It’s profound! And more than I could expect of myself in that position, frankly (though let’s be real, I never would’ve made it that far).
The Losers’ Club kills IT, and now faces the scary reality of going back to their normal lives. The rest of the world will never know they’re heroes.