We’re calling it. “Goosebumps” is basically “Jumanji”, except that it’s funnier and nostalgic.
R.L. Stine’s infamous children horror fiction novels “Goosebumps” and its TV series adaptation were the main sources of terror for most 90s kids. Nothing scared them more than aliens and monsters from the books, but it’s also the reason why some people grew up obsessing over all things spooky and scary.
Now, the stories are being brought to a whole new light through its live-action adaptation by Rob Letterman (of “Shark Tale” fame).
Similar to “The Visit“, there’s nothing really scary about “Goosebumps” because it leans more towards the comedic side. After all, this movie is led by Jack Black, whom many of you know from “The School of Rock” or “Kung Fu Panda“. Black reunited with Letterman through this film and is starring in it as the fictionalised version of author R.L. Stine.
One might think that this movie is based on a specific book from Stine’s horror novel series, but it actually featured all the fictional creatures that creeped us out as kids.
How did Letterman bring out all these characters in one film? Easy. Just turn Slappy the talking Dummy (voiced by Black) into a vengeful character after Stine locked him and the rest of the monsters up in his special collection of manuscripts.
Monsters don’t just leap off the pages on their own and terrorise the town. In this movie, a teenager named Zach Cooper (portrayed by Dylan Minnette) is convinced that his mysterious yet beautiful neighbour Hannah (portrayed by Odeya Rush) has been harmed by his peculiar father that is Stine. As such, he decides to ignore Stine’s warnings and sneak into his house with his friend Champ (portrayed by Ryan Lee) to save her.
There, they learn the reason why the family tries to stay away from public eyes as much as possible. After finding out that Hannah is not harmed by Stine, Zack and Champ accidentally brings the Abominable Snowman into the real world after unlocking a leather-bound “Goosebumps” manuscript.
The bad news didn’t just end there, of course.
While the 3 youngsters are busy capturing the Snowman, Slappy manages to leap off the pages on his own and is determined to make Stine pay for locking him up in a hardback. All hell breaks loose as Slappy unleashes all the monsters that Stine created in the “Goosebumps” series.
Dozens of other-worldly monsters are all crammed into one film, which ultimately forces the filmmakers to focus only on the more iconic characters such as the giant praying mantis, the killer lawn gnomes, the graveyard ghouls, the wolfman, and many more.
The pacing gets faster in the 2nd half of the film, but never rushed, allowing audiences to breathe between the engaging action scenes. Each scene involving a specific monster is done with a sense of humour, but without losing the horror factors too.
Slappy proved to be the most popualr villian as he is the character that we fear the most. The talking dummy is downright evil and menacing that even when the film is not outright horrifiying, he always sends shivers down our spines with his raspy voice and his sadistic behaviour.
Unfortunately, all these horror factors didn’t help conceal the fact that “Goosebumps” is an imperfect film with tonnes of plot holes. Amy Ryan’s talent is wasted in this movie as she was given nothing much to do with her character as Zack’s mom. Even Jillian Bell has a more interesting story with her role as Zack’s Aunt Loraine.
Admittedly, Black doesn’t physically resemble the real Stine, but he posses a likability and manages to add some new interesting traits to his character. Similar to Stan Lee’s cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), there’s a quick appearance by the real Stine too.
All in all, this is a goofy and fun horror comedy tale that is suitable for all ages. There’s a balanced amount of humour and scares that allow anyone to watch it at ease. It delivers a playful sense of spookiness while building scares through the eyes of the children.
While it’s not a blatant attempt at fan service, this film could actually become a movie that “Goosebumps” fans would appreciate.
“Goosebumps” is slated for release on 14th October 2015.