The word wizard and the witch are two figures who have been around since the early days of literature. They are often used in children’s stories to teach a moral lesson, such as how words can be powerful but also dangerous if misused. This story is about a young girl who learns this lesson when she plays with her new friend, the witch.
The the wizard of oz film series is a 1939 American fantasy adventure film, directed by Victor Fleming. It stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, and it is the first installment in the Oz film series.
When it comes to creating films for kids, the horror genre isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, parents strive to avoid these kind of films at all costs in order to protect their children’s delicate brains from a lifetime of nightmares. As a result, it’s critical for a filmmaker to ensure that when they walk down this rabbit hole, they strike the mark. Otherwise, it will turn into an expensive blunder.
‘Nighbooks,’ Netflix’s newest dark fantasy film, deals with child abuse and includes some fairly horrifying creatures, making it perhaps too dark for the underage, showing that what works in a textual version can sometimes be too frightening to stomach when shown on screen. Nonetheless, with many jump scares, black magic, and scary tales around the campfire, this film will push viewers to the brink. However, the feature’s lighthearted style, along with an enormous homage to brilliant young brains, gives it a warmth that counteracts the shivers it delivers.
This film is directed by David Yarovesky and is based on a screenplay written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. The title is based on J.A White’s children’s book of the same name, which was released in 2018. Winslow Fegley, Lidya Jewett, and Krysten Ritter appear in ‘Nightbooks,’ which will debut on Netflix on September 15, 2023.
This fantasy film is produced by Sam Raimi, the man behind the 1980s dark comedy-horror classic “The Evil Dead 2,” which explains why it seems like a kid-friendly adaptation of this terrifying story. From haunting places to magical books, ancient specters to enchanted woods, many elements from the classic are present. The slapstick comedy from the last film, however, is absent in this rendition. Thankfully, Natacha The Witch star Krysten Ritter has plenty of experience portraying villains, and her portrayal of a cackling hex who enjoys tormenting children comes easily to her. She makes being terrible seem so much fun that it’s impossible not to compare her to Meryl Streep’s portrayal in “The Devil Wears Prada.”
The film doesn’t spend any time in establishing a strange scenario in the protagonist’s life, a little kid named Alex, portrayed by Winslow Fegley, who is particularly good at writing scary stories. We first see him in the opening moments, distraught and emotionally drained; vulnerable as he is, he is drawn into an enchanted apartment possessed by the wicked witch Natacha. This enormous structure can only grow to contain anything the witch desires and teleports her anywhere in the globe. We don’t learn why Alex is shaken until the film’s conclusion, which is brilliant since it keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as the suspense develops.
Natacha chooses to dispose of Alex after catching him since she believes the little kid adds no worth to her life. But Alex persuades the enchantress that he may tell Natacha fresh frightening tales every day, and she readily agrees. The catch is that the tales must be approved by the witch in order to be counted, and we must admit that she is as harsh as they come with her critique. Despite the difficulties, Alex manages to perfect his job thanks to his skill with language.
Returning to the enchanted mansion, he is not the only prisoner held captive by Natacha. Another prisoner, Yasmin, who is played by Lidya Jewett, is a somewhat older girl. Yasmin has a love for science and magical botany, which explains why she is still alive. She looks after Natacha’s plants and helps with other household tasks. They begin covertly devising a strategy to free themselves from Natacha’s grasp.
Lenore, a prickly cat that can rapidly become incognito at command, is the most intriguing of all the characters. Lenore’s path is intricate and takes a surprising turn at one point. As it unravels the enigma behind each character’s inner psychology, ‘Nightbooks’ maintains its character numbers modest and its narrative dynamics basic.
As I already said, Ritter’s portrayal of Natacha the witch is flawless; nevertheless, her overall demeanor complements this. Her hair is dyed blue, her makeup is flawless, and her fashion selections are wonderfully wicked and refreshing. Her costume and makeup were flawless, highlighting her chameleon-like persona, who can go from a bored jerk to a wrathful nightmare in the blink of an eye. Don’t be misled by this character’s girlishly beautiful appearance; she is as wicked and ruthless as they come. She possesses spider-like monsters that can tear one’s eyeballs out of their sockets, and to make matters worse, she has some kind of portion candy that transforms her two captives into mindless gluttons.
If the description seems familiar, it’s because ‘Nightbooks’ is based on classic fables and fairy tales that children have grown up hearing or reading. This film, on the other hand, utilizes its classic tomes deftly for its x-factor without losing its uniqueness. The film’s aesthetic appeal stems not only from the narrative itself, but also from the excellent art direction, stunning production design, and flawless costuming and makeup.
Despite the film’s exciting storyline, the middle section is a little boring, thanks to the overuse of CGI and a riddle that is much too simple to solve. The story is interesting, but the middle seems a little underdeveloped. Nonetheless, the performances are good enough to make this film watchable.
‘Nightbooks’ has an anthology feel to it. Unfortunately, they are not completely embraced, since Alex’s tales are told via animated intervals that appear only sporadically throughout the narrative, and his storytelling sessions with Natacha seem like a ritual. In contrast to spending a lot more time investigating the witch mystery, Alex’s brief tales might have made the movie creepier.
Production of children’s horror films is, of course, a road taken by the brave few. While it may send some young ones arguing into their parents’ bed at night, ‘Nightbooks’ endears both kids, tweens, and adults alike, and while it may send some little ones fighting into their parents’ bed at night, it offers wonderful comfort only this genre can provide. Furthermore, in movies, children usually defeat the bad monsters in the end, so it’s a good method to toughen them up. ‘Nightbooks’ succeeds in terms of characters but falls short in terms of pace and intensity, but it is still a fantastic film to see, so get some popcorn and enjoy.
SCORE: 6 OUT OF 10
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