David Yarovesky’s Nightbooks is a brand-new horror film for kids. Does it trick? Or does it treat?
Telling the story of Alex (Winslow Fegley), a young boy who adores writing scary stories in his ‘nightbooks’, and his friend Yasmin (Lidya Jewett) as they try and escape the evil witch Natacha (Krysten Ritter) who is keeping them both captive.
Written by Niamh Brook
Directed by Brightburn director, David Yarovesky, Nightbooks is a film set to introduce a brand new generation to the joys of horror. The premise is relatively simple: two kids who share nothing in common must unite to save themselves and escape their situation, and in doing so, wacky antics occur.
The performances in the film are somewhat of a mixed bag. Krysten Ritter, best known for her roles in Breaking Bad or Jessica Jones, struggles to effectively deliver the dialogue for younger audiences, coming off awkward as opposed to scary. Her poor delivery coupled with an even worse blue wig created a villain that somewhat faded into the background rather than the terrifying threat we are continually told she is. On the other hand, the two younger leads, Fegley and Jewett, both gave constantly solid performances for such young actors and were a joy to watch in places.
For a film clearly aimed at younger audiences, Yarovesky’s direction, in places, is fun and at times can be a little bit frightening for a wimpy, 22-year-old woman. His utilisation of stylish vignettes of Alex’s scary stories allows the audience to truly invest in the story being told as well as being visually reminiscent of classic 70’s horror. The film comes off somewhat as the horror film equivalent of stabilisers on your bike, a way of easing you into something you can handle better when you are older. It holds your hand to show you the world of horror and as you reach the final act, it let’s go and lets you enjoy moments I would have found terrifying when I was ten.
I am not Nightbooks’ target audience, being probably a decade too late and whilst I'd never actively reach to watch the film again, the child inside of me had a pretty fun time watching and waiting to see what turn it would take next. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was well worth a watch if you’re over the age of 11, but if you’re looking for some easy and, at times, creepy fun this spooky season, it’s a great option for some cheesy, horror fun.