BARE BONES: NIGHTBOOKS (2021)

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NIGHTBOOKS (2021)

Kid friendly horror is based on a book by J.A. White and tells the tale of young Alex Mosher (Winslow Fegley). Alex is an imaginative boy whose love for horror, and writing his own scary stories in particular, has made him a virtual outcast in school. Frustrated with his own interests and the effect they have on his life, the boy runs away from home. He is lured into a strange apartment, which turns out to be the lair of Natacha (Krysten Ritter), a witch who likes to kidnap children. To escape a horrible fate, Alex convinces Natacha that he can tell her a new scary story every night. That is a tall order, especially to satisfy a witch, so not only must he write better and better stories each night, but must team up with her other young captive, Yazmin (Lidya Jewett), to try to outwit Natacha and escape.

Flick is directed by David Yarovesky (Brightburn) from a script by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis, who wrote the mediocre The Curse of Llorona. While it’s very colorful and should definitely appeal to the Harry Potter crowd, the flick is missing something to make it really magical. Maybe it’s because it is very dower at times and seems to lack a real sense of devious fun. The only one who gets the material is Krysten Ritter, who gives a delightfully wicked and over-the-top performance as Natacha. She chews the colorful and well-designed scenery in every sequence she is in and steals the flick from her two costars, who sadly are a bit bland as Alex and Yazmin. It’s still entertaining enough and is worth the watch for Ritter and the production design alone, but would have been far more fun with two livelier lead kids and a little more of a wicked wink to it’s audience, like the Goosebump flicks. Flick is currently streaming on Netflix.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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REVIEW: BRIGHTBURN (2019)

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BRIGHTBURN (2019)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Flick takes place in the small Midwestern town of Brightburn, Kansas where couple Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) are trying unsuccessfully to have a child. One night, something crash lands on their rural property. The object is a ship containing a baby boy, whom the couple take in as their own and name Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn). As Brandon reaches his twelfth birthday, the ship hidden in the barn starts to send him disturbing messages, and he starts to show signs that he has powers that make him almost super human. But unlike the world famous superhero whose story this seems so similar to, Brandon has no interest in using his powers for good. In fact, Tori and Kyle soon learn their adopted son may be more Michael Myers than Clark Kent.

Superhero horror flick is very well directed by David Yarovesky from a clever script by Mark and Brian Gunn. The writers have taken what is basically the story of Superman and added the caveat of what Superman would have been like if he had malevolent intent, instead of being the giant Boy Scout he was. Brandon Breyer is no Clark Kent, as he develops a liking for hurting others and director¬†Yarovesky really uses this twisted twist on a classic superhero scenario to his advantage. This is Smallville meets Elm Street as Brandon torments and kills those he doesn’t like, or anyone who crosses him. Once the town of Brightburn is on alert that a killer may be on the loose, Brandon uses his superhuman powers to intimidate or eliminate anyone who can give him away. No one is safe…not even Kyle and Tori. The result is one of the best horror films so far this year, as Yarovesky and his script writers delightfully mix superhero flick and old fashion slasher movie. It’s quite chilling as Brandon dons his red cape and creepy red mask and starts stalking his human prey, dispatching them in gruesome ways. This is a hard R and there are many chilling and suspenseful moments as Brandon becomes more and more evil and more and more vicious. It all leads to a nail-biting last act at the Breyer residence that really turns the super screws. A super bloody good time, it is.

The cast is really solid here and play the material very seriously. Elizabeth Banks is very strong as Brandon’s “mother” Tori, who at first refuses to believe her adopted son is capable of the things he’s accused/suspected of and when she finally sees him for what he is, becomes a mother very frightened of her own child. Jackson A. Dunn is really creepy as Brandon. He starts out a bit sympathetic, as a boy realizing he’s different and having trouble fitting in, but then transforms into a disturbing and frightening villain, in the Jason Voorhees mold, as he begins to realize that he is the most powerful creature on the planet. David Denman is good as his “father” Kyle who comes to terms a bit quicker with the fact that they may have a monster in their midst. In support there is good work by Meredith Hagner and Matt Jones as Brandon’s Aunt Merilee and Uncle Noah, who unfortunately get on the lad’s bad side.

This was one scary horror flick at times and really used the idea of a superhero gone bad to unsettling effect. What if Superman had the mind of a serial killer? It’s a frightening concept to have a sadistic mind in a body so powerful and it’s even more disturbing that Brandon is only a child. His parents brought him up right, but wherever he’s from, it’s not Krypton.¬†Highly recommended for horror fans, and superhero fans who were always curious what would happen if Clark Kent was a psychopath.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) creepy serial killer/superhero masks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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