David Yarovesky


September 15, 2021.




Jess Brown, Winslow Fegley, Liam Couvion, Lidya Jewett, Cleo, Krysten Ritter, Trixie, Riley O’Donnell, Khiyla Aynne, Mathieu Bourassa, Eden Gjoka, Jill Frappier, Luxton Handspiker, Evan O’Donnell, Miley Haik, Taylor Belle, Stephen R. Hart, Neil Emmanuel Lu.


In this movie, you will see Alex, a young man with a penchant for frightening tales, as he is held captive in the apartment of a wicked young witch in present-day New York City.


Except for a few recent examples like “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” or the “Goosebumps” franchise, children’s horror films are a rare and risky bet. A limited goal must be reached for horror filmmakers even to consider making an effort; their films must be terrifying for curious adolescents but not sending them running for their parents’ beds in terror.

For the most part, “Night books” is reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead II,” with its haunting setting, magical books filled with ancient spirits, and even an enchanted woodland scene using his trademark demented point-of-view camera. Even though the film lacks a Bruce Campbell-type character to provide slapstick humor, Krysten Ritter’s performance as a cackling witch who enjoys torturing children on “Breaking Bad” and “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23” gives it a lift. At the very least, she makes being wicked seem like a lot of fun. Ritter’s portrayal is reminiscent of Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” in this respect. Before he meets the witch, young Alex (Winslow Fegley) is already in a lot of trouble. A dark corridor greets him before it even gets to his destination, and like Hansel in “Hansel and Gretel,” an open door lures him to enticing delights such as an old horror movie on TV and a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. As a result of being caught up in Ritter’s witch’s spell, Alex is allowed to remain alive by writing a new tale for her every night. Meanwhile, he makes a new friend, Yasmin (Lidya Jewett), a long-term prisoner of the witch who can guide him through an apartment full of spooky surprises, such as a night garden filled with weird flora and evil beings. She also helps him escape. Having access to a vast library is also a bonus since it sparks his creativity while also providing hints on finding a hidden exit. All he has to do is maintain submitting quality articles on time to a demanding editor, which sounds suspiciously like a career in journalism. “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” gave Fegley a taste of adolescent precociousness, but his character in “Night books” had more of an identifiable dread and anxiety. Fegley is most known for his role as the titular character in Tom McCarthy’s Disney Plus film “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made.” This is the film’s central irony: Alex has a more attentive and appreciative audience than his parents or classmates when it comes to his work because of the witch. Like Kathy Bates in “Misery,” Ritter demands the tales go a certain way — no happy endings are permitted. However, no one can claim she is not entirely involved in the writing of her prisoner. Director David Yarovesky (“Brightburn”) and production designer Anastasia Masaro transform the witch’s residence into a carnival funhouse, creating a diverse and borderless variety of hidden chambers that serve as a scary jail for Alex and Yazmin while also helping as a place of unlimited potential. Yarovesky’s violent cinematography may scare small children away, but “Night books” is for the Alexes of the world, who are too young for the bulk of horror films yet want to see Halloween creatures come to life in “Night books.” This is the perfect entryway for them into the macabre.