Half? Yeah, because you're only getting half the story. Muschietti's movie focuses on the source material's childhood-set portions, in which seven preadolescent outcasts -- Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike, Eddie, and Stan -- band together to stop a nefarious entity from hunting kids in Derry, Maine. They triumph, but only after a marathon of terror. It, as the entity is called, awakens every 27 years to feed, capturing its prey by transforming into certain phobias. Eddie sees a leper. Stan sees a hideous painting come to life. And occasionally It goes further: Bill sees his missing brother. Bev sees her abusive father.
Though Muschietti changes the way King's story unspools, he stays true to its spirit, frequently chilling the tension with humor to give you a breather and to accelerate your emotional connection to the characters. You get a kick out of Richie's perverted wisecracks. Same with Eddie's neuroses. But only momentarily, before Muschietti hits you with another precisely choreographed BOO!
IT capitalizes on those things that scare kids most: being alone, being trapped, getting lost, basements, haunted houses, the unknown, and, of course, monsters. The movie reminds you what it's like to be a kid again -- the good, the bad, the mortifying. It's a strong tale about supporting your friends and standing up to your fears. New fans might get Stranger Things vibes; others will have no problem seeing IT as the Stand by Me of King's cinematic horror canon.
For the members of The Losers' Club, as the kids are known, it takes a broken arm and a near-death experience to show the squad they're strongest as a unit. As Pennywise lures the Losers into the sewers for one last meal, the kids realize their strength in numbers and clobber the clown. Since It feeds on fear, the entity becomes outmatched. Defeated, ineffective, Pennywise descends deeper into the sewers, into a pit of darkness before Bill can deliver one final blow. The kids celebrate and cap their heroics with a blood oath: If It comes back in 27 years, so will they.
But where did It go?