It

Stephen King's "It" is a successful adaptation from book to movie. 

NEW LINE CINEMA

Want to see a movie that will scare the living "It" out of you?

Stephen King's books either translate well to the big screen, or they don't.

There is little in between the ridiculous "Thinner" and "Dreamcatcher," for example, and the superlative "The Green Mile" and "The ShawshankRedemption."

This ranks among the latter. It's scary as all get-out, with terrific, sympathetic characters, and a spin on the horrors of childhood that King is so wonderful at recreating and bringing back to the minds of the adults who may shudder at the memories.

And that's not to mention the dreadful Pennywise the Dancing Clown, an incarnation of the monster — real or imagined? — that lurks under the beds and in the closets of so many little kids.

The story begins in 1988, when little Georgie chases a handmade boat into a sewer, where he sees Pennywise lurking. Pennywise, of course, has Georgie's boat in his hand. Georgie then, well, disappears.

A year later, Georgie's older brother Bill (Jaeden Liberher, "The Book of Henry") is determined to find out what happened to his little sibling. He enlists the help of several other kids, including a loudmouth, a new boy and a girl who is the focus of gossip and bullying in the school.

One by one, each of the kids experiences Pennywise in a different form. They are, in fact, the only ones who can see Pennywise and understand exactly how deadly his appearance is to not only the children but also the entire town of Derry, Maine (a common setting that King uses in many of his stories and novels.)

Finn Wolfhard, one of the stars of the Netflix cult hit "Stranger Things," is enjoyable as Bill's best pal Richie. And Sophia Lillis is a standout as the only girl in the troupe. Her troubled eyes reveal a personal haunting that she doesn't want to discuss.

Andy Muschietti has a knack for horror — he also helmed the enjoyable "Mama." He recognizes that this audience is too smart to be engaged by a series of "boo" moments.

So he gives us the horror of the kids' private lives. And that includes some of the most realistic scenes of bullying ever depicted in a film. The scenes are enough in and of themselves to make viewers squeamish.

As for the clown? Pennywise preys on the common fears of the children, and so he preys on the common fears of us all.

The themes of friendship and courage are emphasized just as much as the horror quotient, which is pretty high.

Be prepared to be scared ... and like it.

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