NIGHTMARE FUEL: Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) is a scene stealer in Stephen King's It.
NIGHTMARE FUEL: Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) is a scene stealer in Stephen King's It. Roadshow Films

More than one monster in King horror

PUT Stand By Me and Stranger Things in a blender and you have It, the best horror movie in a long time.

Of course, the fact that it's based on a classic Stephen King novel doesn't hurt.

In late 1988, Bill Denbrough's little brother Georgie goes missing - taken by a monstrous clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) that lives in the sewer.

By summer 1989, many more children in Derry, Maine, have vanished.

Of course, being a Stephen King story, Pennywise is far from the only monster in Derry - just the only literal one. Most of the adults are pretty terrible too - or at least oblivious.

This leaves Bill and his misfit friends with no choice but to try and stop Pennywise themselves.

If this sounds a bit like the Netflix show Stranger Things, it's no coincidence - King's 1986 novel was clearly one of the influences behind that series.

Ironically, by updating the setting to 1989 (the book was set 30 years earlier), the movie has ended up more similar to Stranger Things than the book ever was.

Despite an impressive marketing campaign, It is more than just a "killer clown movie” - although Bill Skarsgard is pretty impressive as the demonic Pennywise, who feeds on children's fears.

Much like Stand By Me - also based on a King story - the film's real strength is its nostalgic look at a group of childhood friends - in this case, the members of Bill's "Losers Club”.

All seven young actors are pretty impressive, in particular Jaeden Lieberher as the grieving, stuttering Bill, Jeremy Ray Taylor as the sensitive, overweight Ben, Stranger Things veteran Finn Wolfhard as motormouth Richie and Sophia Lillis as Bev, the only girl, an outcast who lives with an abusive father.

As fans of the book already knew, Chapter One is only the first half of the story, with an It sequel on the way reuniting the Losers at the age of 40.

Let's hope the adult actors they cast in Chapter Two can live up to the incredible kids in this one.

Rating: Four stars