FILM REVIEW | Nightbooks

Some children's movies are so well made that the adults enjoy them just as much as the little ones.

This is customary of Pixar's output and many of the adventure movies of the 80s.

But sometimes, you'll get kids' movies that really just don't cut it for the adults.

And, sadly, the second category is where we'll find Netflix's latest offering: Nightbooks.

The kid-friendly horror movie sees young scary movie fan Alex (Winslow Fegley) lured into a magical apartment building after a traumatic night, to find himself kidnapped by a witch.

Said witch, Natacha (Jessica Jones' Krysten Ritter, clearly relishing her opportunity to portray a campy, over-the-top witch), threatens to kill Alex if he is not useful to her.

But when she finds out the youngster writes scary stories in his 'nightbooks', she demands a new tale every night. Also trapped in the apartment is another child, Yasmin (Lidya Jewett, Good Girls), who cooks, cleans and looks after Natacha's magical plant nursery.

Kid-friendly horror: Krysten Ritter stars as witch Natacha in Netflix's new scary movie for younger audiences, Nightbooks, rated PG, streaming now. Picture: Netflix

Kid-friendly horror: Krysten Ritter stars as witch Natacha in Netflix's new scary movie for younger audiences, Nightbooks, rated PG, streaming now. Picture: Netflix

When attempting to seek inspiration for new stories in the apartment's magical library room, Alex finds secret messages written in some of the oldest books and figures out a girl who was kidnapped before him and Yasmin managed to escape.

So they concoct a plan to make their escape too.

The story itself leaves a lot to be desired, especially the central conceit - it just seems ridiculous that a fully-grown witch would require a child's horror stories every night.

Even when the full reason behind that is revealed, it's a grave disappointment.

On the plus side, the young actors are pretty good, especially Fegley (whose lookalike brother Oakes has already led several of his own films including Pete's Dragon, The Goldfinch and The War with Grandpa) in a rather tragic and moving monologue moment.

Some of the set design is engaging and enjoyable, and Natacha's costume - while completely outrageous and campy and not in the least scary - is pretty fun.

Some younger kids might fun certain moments in the film creepy or scary, but the older kids and adults will likely be unimpressed from the start to the end.

The ending seems to suggest a sequel is expected. Surely one is not warranted.

Rating: 5/10