In a New England small town, evil, shape-shifting clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) lurks, ready to pull unsuspecting kids into his lair.

However, a bunch of misfit teens strive to defeat him. The self-described Losers’ Club includes plucky, stuttering Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), tubby, bookish Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and tomboy Beverly (Sophia Lillis).

They gradually work out why so many children have vanished – including Bill’s younger brother – and that Pennywise reappears every 27 years, snatching children and spreading terror while taking forms that embody his victims’ deepest fears.

This supernatural horror thriller is based on Stephen King’s novel, previously filmed as a TV miniseries in 1990. Director Andy Muschietti’s new adaptation relocates the action from the 1950s to the 1980s and confines itself to the flashback portions of King’s book, cleverly setting things up for a sequel (due in September next year) to tackle the other half of the tale dealing with the characters in adulthood.

Skarsgård is delightfully creepy and the young cast is faultless. Muschietti expertly depicts their troubled backgrounds, while also doling out plenty of jumpy shocks.

The chilling opening sequence, in which sewer-dwelling Pennywise entices Bill’s innocent younger brother Georgie towards the perilous opening of a storm drain, is guaranteed to spook even the hardiest of horror fans.