GIVEN its obsession with sequels, remakes and adaptations, it is surprising Hollywood has taken this long to finally revisit Stephen King’s IT.

Rather than cramming King’s 1138-page novel into one movie, IT has been split into two, self-contained films.

Chapter 1 follows a group of outcasts – who call themselves the Losers' Club – in Derry, Maine, during the late 1980s, three decades later than in the novel.

As well as deal with real-life terrors such as bullying and abuse, the Losers are preyed by IT, a supernatural entity that feasts on children for one year, every 27 years.

The shapeshifting creature often takes the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, played by Swedish actor, Bill Skarsgård, and is able to transform into whatever the Losers fear most.

Skarsgård has some hefty shoes to fill given that Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise in the 1990 TV miniseries is so ingrained in the conscience of so many.

Thankfully, Skarsgård does not try to ape Curry’s iconic performance, and brings a far creepier, twisted version of Pennywise that is closer to the source material than the one that came before.

The scares come thick and fast, which is partly to its detriment. There is not too much in the way of suspense, with Argentine director Andrés Muschietti opting instead for more visual scares.

There is a fair bit of CGI on show, which will be off-putting for some horror purists, but thankfully the visuals are of a decent standard despite the film’s budget restraints.

Surprisingly, IT is laugh-out-loud funny at times, which in part is down to the chemistry of the Losers – the real stars of the show.

The standout performance comes from Sophia Lillis, who plays Beverly Marsh. The young actress has a bright future ahead of her. Do not be surprised to see her as a leading lady in the future.

Finn Wolfhard, one of the stars of the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things – a clear source of inspiration here – strengthens his stock as the often crude-talking Richie Tozier.

Jaeden Lieberher puts in a solid performance as stuttering Bill Denbrough and Jeremy Ray Taylor is adorably sweet as Ben Hanscom.

In many ways IT works better as a coming-of age film than a horror.

IT often falls flat when it comes to the scares but the movie is elevated through an exceptional young cast, some first-rate dialogue and a commendable performance from Skarsgård.

Roll on Chapter 2.