Gateway horror sometimes gets a bad rap among hardcore genre fans. These films don’t have the blood, gore, and scares that many of us crave, so we often just dismiss them out of hand as not “real horror.” But that’s not fair. If we take off our elitist blinders, we can see that movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, and Coraline are great stories that anybody, even the hardest of hardcore horror fans, can appreciate. And that’s why I’m intrigued by the trailer for Nightbooks. Sure, it’s definitely made for kids, but I think it has the potential to be a really fun gateway horror that young and old alike can enjoy.
The film is about a young kid named Alex who one day finds himself in the apartment of an evil witch. She’s kidnapped him, and to survive, he has to tell her a scary story every night. He soon meets another prisoner in the witch’s apartment, a girl named Yasmin, and the two of them must brave the magical terrors of the witch’s apartment as they try to escape.
That’s a pretty standard premise, so it looks like the appeal of Nightbooks isn’t going to lie in its deep story. Instead, I suspect that the real draw of this movie will be its visuals, and the trailer gives us three great reasons to be very excited.
For starters, the opening scene is genuinely creepy. Sure, it’s not on the level of Paranormal Activity or The Conjuring, but it uses horror staples like flickering lights, ominous whispering, and dark figures pretty effectively. It gives me hope that while this is definitely going to be a kids’ horror movie, it might also be a legit kids’ horror movie.
Secondly, the witch’s apartment is absolutely gorgeous. It looks pretty plain at first, but as the trailer goes on, we see some truly magical settings. For example, the library is mesmerizing, and the weirdly blueish place with the almost neon-colored plants is just a visual feast. These places alone make me want to watch the film, and I fully expect the rest of Nightbooks to be just as beautiful.
Last but not least, I have high hopes for the magical creatures in this movie as well. We don’t see too many of them, but the creepy spider-like thing with a mouth full of fangs is enough to get me excited. It’s absolutely terrifying, so I can’t wait to see what other fantastical critters this film has in store for us.
On their own, none of those three elements would make a particularly great movie, but when you put them together, they make me think that Nightbooks has the potential to be one of the best gateway horrors of this generation. It hits Netflix on September 15, and I for one can’t wait to see if it lives up to the promise of its trailer.
So what do you think of the trailer for Nightbooks? Do you agree with JP that it looks like a cool new gateway horror? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for more trailers we’ve got you covered!