It review: No clowning around in Stephen King remake
Buried within the 1,000-plus pages of Stephen King's disturbing 1986 novel It are piercing truths about the corruptibility of childhood innocence and the redemptive power of friendship.
Among the expertly crafted lines is one hypochondriac's sombre realisation that true evil doesn't always manifest as a dancing clown.
"Grown ups are the real monsters," he laments.
Director Andres Muschietti's nerve-jangling adaptation of King's hefty tome seizes on those words, even if it doesn't speak them aloud, by portraying the fictional town of Derry, Maine, as a hotbed of exploitation, abuse and degradation committed by adults on the young.
Menace leaches from every frame and the three screenwriters make our skin crawl by exposing the festering underbelly of a community that has stopped listening or caring.
The script sensibly cleaves the book by timeline.
This opening salvo - a caption reads It: Chapter 1 - is reset to the late Eighties to focus on the stories of seven children, whose lives are scarred by a malevolent presence that materialises as Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard).
In June 1989, seven tormented pre-teens bond as the Losers' Club, drawn together by mutual beatings at the hands of sadistic 15-year-old Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton).
The stuttering leader of the Losers' Club, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), bears the deepest and freshest wounds: his younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) was dragged into Pennywise's subterranean lair the previous autumn. Bill seeks balm for his grief in the company of fellow misfits Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), Richie (Finn Wolfhard) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff).
However, Pennywise intends to divide and conquer by feasting upon children's fears.