“Nightbooks” Movie Review

Story posted September 23, 2021 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Maggie Wilson

Netflix’s “Nightbooks,” is a dark fantasy film fit for a young audience.

This production pointed David Yarovesky in a new direction. Known for his work on the adult horror film “Brightburn,” Yarovesky accepted the challenge of creating a scary movie for kids.

Yarovesky told Decider that he worked closely with Netflix and executive producer Sam Raimi to negotiate just how chilling the movie should be. He described the work as “gateway horror.”

Based on a book written by J. A. White, this story tells the tale of two children, Alex and Yazmin, who are kidnapped by an evil witch named Natacha.

Alex (portrayed by Winslow Fegley) is a 12-year-old boy who loves to write horror stories. However, he begins to resent his hobby at the beginning of the movie, worrying that it has made him a friendless “creepshow.”

On his way to burn his stories, Alex is lured into Natacha’s mystical apartment. Once there, he is presented with an ultimatum: if he does not read her a new scary story every night, Natacha (portrayed by Krysten Ritter) will kill him.

Alex soon realizes that he is not alone in the traveling apartment and befriends Yazmin (portrayed by Lidya Jewett), a young girl trapped for three years in service as a housekeeper. The two actors mimic a Hansel and Gretel duo as they plot their escape.

Yazmin informs Alex that the apartment moves around the world and has two exits that respond only to Natacha's magical keys.

The film utilizes special effects and some poor computer-generated imaging to present haunting images of fluorescent plants and otherworldly creatures, like the Shredders. It terrorizes the children as they navigate their personal prison.

Yarovesky describes his thought process regarding these effects as, “It’s trying to recreate that experience of taking the whole family to a haunted hayride, and holding each other and covering each other’s eyes and being afraid together, and making it through together.”

Fegley and Jewett hold their own in this film and keep the young audience’s interest no less than Ritter, the captivating witch who captures children for her personal gain.

The film's final scene hints at a sequel. Although one has not been announced yet by Netflix, Yarovesky told Decider, “If I was lucky enough to be able to make more of these, I would of course happily make more of them.”

“Nightbooks” is sure to be an enjoyable and spooky watch for children, just in time for Halloween. However, its plot proves too predictable and its humor too elementary for an adult audience.

Rating: 3/5 stars


Maggie Wilson is a third-year majoring in public relations. To contact her, email mwilson@psu.edu.