(On Cable TV, July 2018) We’re in the middle of an interesting second-generation Stephen King cinematic renaissance, as long-time fans of the author are becoming filmmakers and producers with enough pull to propose and execute King-related projects. It helps that King writes enough books in a decade to rival another author’s entire bibliography, but recency is not a factor with It—a second adaptation of one of King’s landmark 1980s novels, a book so big and split in two eras that this first film only shows up the first half of the story. I, frankly, wasn’t expecting much: King adaptations span the whole spectrum of cinematic quality from silly to sublime, with most settling for middling horror. But this first half of It is actually quite good. It doesn’t try to be anything else but a straight-ahead horror film, but when it pulls the stops it gets surprisingly intense. Making effective use of a medium-sized budget through a lot of special effects, a large cast of main characters and a focus on a reasonable amount of plot in order to do it justice without cramming too much stuff in a too-short film. Director Andy Muschietti delivers a few inventive and iconic set-pieces (which always helps in distinguishing a good horror film from an average one) and gets good performances from his teenage actors. (The film also removes the most problematic scene of King’s book, saving us from endless debate about justifying a bad creative decision.) The result is enjoyable, spooky, nightmarish at times and feels somewhat complete even without the modern-era half of the book. I’m quite looking forward to the follow-up.