Nightbooks: A fun opener for the 2021 spooky season for the entire family
Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Where to watch in Canada: Netflix
Stars- Winslow Fegley, Lidya Jewett, Krysten Ritter
Directed by David Yarovesky
Nightbooks was such a blast, and the first true kick off to the 2021 spooky season. A movie that families with kids aged 8 and up, as well as individual movie viewers, can all admire for what it presents. The Goosebump feels are very alive in this movie, but presents its story to a more mature audience allowing parents to be entertained when they decide to turn it on for family movie night compared to its comparable movie.
The messaging behind the story is to encourage children to be their authentic selves, and to not sacrifice and hide their passions because they're afraid to come off weird to others. Something that even us adults can take away from it, as constantly in this digital age we put off showing what we love to do because we're afraid to be judged by our peers. The scares are there, as a handful of times I was even nervous at my big old age of 25- but it doesn't rely on the scares to keep the audiences enthralled rather its strong storytelling will keep the audience engaged as you unravel into the world set within the apartment of the evil witch Natacha. As the children's backstories are unveiled, you can't help but become more and more intrigued in their backgrounds and rooting for their escape. The ending is very open ended, and as someone that hates movies setting themselves up for sequels, i'm perfectly fine with the open ending that it went with- as a sequel would be great there's so much more story to tell in this world, and if a sequel doesn't happen then it ends off on a creepy note that comes off more as the perfect cap to the story and much less as a cliffhanger that just expects a continuing story.
Theres these little clips shown when Fegley's Alex is reading Natacha his scary stories- and I absolutely loved those cutaways they're really well done, and felt like something out of "Are You Afraid of the Dark".
All three of our cast members are so good. Lidya Jewett carries a lot of the emotional weight with her character, Yasmin, who has been in Natachas forced employment for so long and there is so much past pain in her eyes that we get to learn about as the story goes on- Jewett being able to express hopelessness as well as she does through just her eyes and body language is phenomenal. Fegley who I had no idea was Timmy Failure until I was a quarter of the way through my Letterboxd review. This was much better material for Fegley to work with, and his character Alex is the heart of the story- his optimism radiates through him as he tries to push his hope onto Yasmin- never giving up despite the circumstances that he finds himself in. Both child actors correspond so well being on such opposite sides of the optimist and pessimist spectrum. They're both good, but in the end this is Krysten Ritters movie. The Jessica Jones star lives to play an over the top witch character. Every single moment she is on the screen you are captivated by her larger than life persona and their is something so cool about this modern day witch that even though she is the villain a part of you is attached to her and wants to root for her. Its a fine line between tacky and scary, we've seen others try to play a children's witch villain and fail- Ritter doesn't only walk the line perfectly, but she does so blindfolded, backwards, and on one leg.
The negatives of the story is nothing too crazy and there are for more positives than negatives. A couple cgi moments that I didn't necessarily love, and there were a handful of character decisions made as we reached the final act that felt questionable and purely done to get the story in the direction it was written to go- feeling almost unnatural in the way it comes about.
75%- Well worth the stream, Nightbooks won't be winning any awards but this family friendly scary movie is sure to be a delight as we get closer and closer to Halloween.