Nightbooks Parent Guide
Often scary and occasionally disgusting, this film fails to clear the bar for safe, scary children's entertainment.
Parent Movie Review
Alex (Winslow Fegley) is a lonely kid, largely owing to his fascination with horror stories, which he writes in his spare time. When no one turns up to his Halloween themed birthday party, he runs off to the boiler room of the apartment building to burn all of his work – but fate has other ideas. The elevator takes him to an entirely different floor, one he doesn’t quite recognize, with only one open room… and once he’s in, he can’t get out. The apartment belongs to Natacha (Krysten Ritter), a diabolical witch who lures children to their doom. But she has work for Alex: Every night, she wants to hear a different scary story, and she’s read every single one in her colossal library. Now she wants Alex to write new ones for her. Should he fail to produce a new story, she’ll kill him…or worse. But with the help of Yasmin (Lidya Jewett), another child in Natacha’s “employ”, Alex thinks he might have a chance to escape.
This movie’s biggest problem is with tone. Sure, it’s obviously geared at kids around 10 years old. They won’t really care that the writing is schlockier than your grandma’s collection of knickknacks, or that the story is so blandly predictable I had a good idea where things were going about 20 minutes in. Unfortunately, depending on the resilience of your particular 10-year-old, this movie could also scare the pants clean off them. Most of it is your average kiddie horror fare – think amped up Halloween decorations. But there are also serious threats, jump scares, and fairly unsettling violence against children – oh, and one of the characters is burned alive. So that might be a deterrent for most families looking for fun scares.
Parents don’t have too much else to worry about – apart from a particularly nauseating close up of an invisible cat pooping on someone’s food, which may not fit into any of our content categories but is remarkably disgusting. Although, truth be told, your child will probably find it hysterical, even if it puts you off peanut butter for the foreseeable future. Kids are weird.
If you’re raising a strange little horror fanatic, they might just enjoy this, but if you’re not, I’d stick to more child-friendly flicks – advice Alex’s parents clearly didn’t follow, judging by the posters for Candyman and The Thing on his bedroom walls. The movie has some cute little messages about friendship and self-esteem, but frankly, you can find those in movies that don’t feature the invisible rectums of cats. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s always an upgrade.Directed by David Yarovesky. Starring Krysten Ritter, Lydia Jewett, Winslow Fegley. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release September 15, 2021. Updated February 24, 2022
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Nightbooks rated TV-PG? Nightbooks is rated TV-PG by the MPAA
Violence: Kids are attacked by bugs and cats, resulting in visible injuries, and are also threatened with death. Off-screen, children are killed and eaten. A character is crushed by a collapsing wall. One person is pushed into a fire and burned alive.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are infrequent mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated February 24, 2022
Nightbooks Parents' Guide
Why does Alex have such a hard time at his party? What could his parents have done differently? What does this say about his friends? What do his experiences with the witch change for Alex? What are some negative changes you might expect from those experiences? Why is Yasmin so cold towards him when they meet? What changes her mind?
Related home video titles:
Scary movies for children include The Addams Family, Hotel Transylvania, Coraline, The House with a Clock in its Walls, Monster House, Goosebumps (and Goosebumps 2), and Frankenweenie. Older teens might enjoy Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Happy Death Day (and Happy Death Day 2 U), The Cabin in the Woods, or Freaky.