Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to


By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Book-based fantasy-horror tale has lots of scares, peril.

Movie NR 2021 100 minutes
Nightbooks Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 13+

It is rated incorrectly, should be PG13

This should not be rated PG!!! While the story itself and the characters are great and have interesting stories this is not a fantasy/ mystery as marketed on Netflix. This is a children’s horror film. Unless your child is naturally into horror this is not suited for kids under the age of 13. This movie contained all the components of horror films including: creepy characters crawling on ceilings, creepy distorted body parts popping up under doors, horror like characters popping through ceiling windows to open their mouths that creepy amount of wide to spray liquids all over children, ect. The only reason I believe they got away with such a low age rating is because all of the parts that would normally be blood spraying or splattering in a horror film was replaced with rainbow puke like fluids. However, it is a great movie for horror fans and kids of an appropriate age. There is a good lesson in it as well. Love all of these actors.
age 11+

I agree

I actually even related to this movie I am watching it before I tell my son a out it. Good review I agree thus far.

This title has:

Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10 ):
Kids say (20 ):

Modern-day characters are plopped into a world of classic fairy tales and fantasy-horror movie images in this inventive tale that could've been better scaled back. Plot twists keep the story moving in Nightbooks, but ultimately there are so many threats to the characters' lives, so many "this is the end" moments, that you find yourself hoping for some resolution, any resolution, after about an hour. This isn't ideal for a child-centric tale: We should only root for their survival. Combined with intricately-rich set designs, especially a cool skyscraper of a personal library, and over-the-top adult baddies, the constant tension can be exhausting. Winslow Fegley and Lidya Jewett are both fantastic, and Krysten Ritter seems to be having a great time vamping in monster boots and stylish witch-wear. The script has some creative and intelligent twists on the art of storytelling. When Natacha sighs, "writers -- so insecure" and Alex suffers writer's block or outwits his know-it-all audience of one, it can be laugh-out-loud funny. Writers will appreciate that in this world, telling stories saves lives (the film's tagline is "Write for your life").

But Nightbooks also would've done well to take its own advice when Natacha suggests that every good story hints at the truth -- the more truth, the more powerful the story. When Alex finally confronts the sadness and pain that brought him to this haunted house, his grade school drama feels almost too pedestrian for the rest of the fantastical tale. His captivity has such clear lessons for him in the "real world" that it would've made more sense in the resolution if he had just dreamt the whole thing, underscoring both his inventiveness and the social-emotional growth he needed. Instead, the film could feel a bit too creepy for some viewers with its depictions of child abductions, psychological trauma, and torture. Some of the violence is also too graphic for a children's film, even while other effects -- long shadows, conspicuous lightning, candy-colored vomit, the rudimentary films-within-the-film that bring Alex's stories to life -- are deliberately more spoof than spook.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate