Goosebumps: Film Review

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I loved the Goosebumps books and TV series so I was convinced this film adaptation was going to be terrible – Jack Black hasn’t exactly had the greatest run in movies lately and the promos didn’t have the same feel as a Goosebumps story. But I was totally wrong – I really enjoyed this and I think it will introduce the franchise to a whole new generation.

Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mum Gale (Amy Ryan) move from New York to Madison, Delaware to start a new life following the death of their dad/husband. They move in next door to some creepy old man Mr Shivers (Black) and his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush), who Zach cannot speak to or see. But when Zach thinks he overhears Shivers hurting Hannah, he bursts into their home to help and discovers Shivers is actually author R.L. Stine. His Goosebumps books are bound with padlocks because the monsters created on the pages will escape – so of course some get opened and chaos ensues.

This isn’t a traditional Goosebumps story but a film starring its real-life author R.L. Stine (who also has a cameo) and the stories he has written. I wasn’t expecting that angle and I liked it because it meant they weren’t trying to redo old episodes from the TV show or create a new tale with a singular monster. This manages to get all the popular baddies in. I don’t know if it’s as scary as the originals – I used to find the TV title sequence alone terrifying – but Slappy the ventriloquist dummy may give kids some scares. I used to get nightmares and I just can’t imagine this doing the same – not sure if this is good or not.

This was written far better than I expected for a Goosebumps film. I felt genuine chemistry between the two young leads and I did not see a certain twist coming. It was quite sad and I was touched by it. I enjoyed the two leads quite a lot and their friend Champ (Ryan Lee) – he’s a nerd and scaredy cat, which helps with the hilarity. The only one that let the side down was Black because he opted to go caricature style when everyone else was playing it straight. He could have dropped the act when his true identity was revealed, but he kept it up. I guess kids like this? I have no idea.

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This is a perfect family film in that it had laughs for adults and for kids. It didn’t make lame jokes or resort to slapstick comedy to get kids to laugh. I wish it had upped the scare factor a little bit and made the CGI monsters more realistic, but that may have been too much for the kids. This is an exciting adventure and I enjoyed the whole thing. I’m so glad they didn’t ruin it!

In cinemas now 

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