I feel strange reviewing Goosebumps in the month of December. THAT’S NOT THE RIGHT THEME.
Well, I had to cancel my eventual trip to see Goosebumps in theaters back end of October. Things were crazy. And now things are crazy, but a bit less. So while some people are thinking of Star Wars or Christmas, I can think about scaring little kids.
After all, what are the holidays, if not for scaring little kids?
Back to the film, I read probably 75% of the main Goosebumps books when I was a youthful lad, and I watched every episode of the TV Show. Hell, I’ve been watching the episodes on Netflix slowly for the past two years. It is great to see how shitty the effects are now, but how much they scare the kids. And occasionally you get to see Ryan Gosling out of nowhere, so that was fun.
Needless to say, I was nostalgia-ing pretty hard, so I couldn’t wait to see what weirdness they went with for the new film.
A whole lot of white people. Makes sense.
Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom (Amy Ryan) are moving to the best place to be a kid. Discovery Zone! Wait no. He is actually now in Madison, Delaware.
New school, new high school life. And a crazy aunt (Jillian Bell) who is way too energetic also now nearby. What’s not to love?
Oh hey, his neighbor is a teenage girl. That’s a plus. Because he is a boy and boys like girls. Hannah (Odeya Rush) is homeschooled and her dad (Jack Black) is very protective and won’t let Zach interact with her. Fuck.
Let’s cut to the chase. The dad is totally R. L. Stine. Yes the “real one” who wrote all the Goosebumps books. And he has original manuscripts of all of his books in the house locked up. What’s that? If they open it up, the bad creature comes out! Holy fuck, shenanigans! Magic and stuff! And eventually Slappy, the doll is released (also voiced by Jack Black), and he decides he should open all the books around town, burn them so they cannot be recaptured and fuck all the shit up. Because Stine wasn’t letting them wreck things. Fuck that small town up, hard.
Also with Ryan Lee as the weird male friend and Ken Marino as creepy gym teacher.
All these monsters and the scariest one is still the clown.
Okay, without taking off the nostalgia glasses, I can say I was a bit disappointed. Especially when “all” of the books are unleashed upon the town into one big army, my main thought was “Yes! Let’s see all the other bad guys! Even the lame ones!” But no, they added only a handful of villains, with mostly zombie hordes to make it look bigger. So I was disappointed I didn’t get to see more Goosebumps staples. I am mostly shocked I didn’t see a haunted camera and there was only a vague reference to a mask. Bring out the props, damn it!
Nostalgia glasses back off. On its own, the film felt relatively safe. It had a few in jokes for adults more aware of the series that would fly over the heads of new kids. Hell, there was an R. L. Stine cameo that I found incredibly hilarious and well placed. But for the most part, nothing too crazy or unexpected happened. The main character was generic.
There were still a few good scenes though. The abominable snowman in the hockey arena was very tense. The first lawn gnomes attack was great. And I enjoyed the shocker and the werewolf. Slappy makes since as the big bad guy, only in that he has a voice, but he didn’t do enough creepy things on his own.
I will say this. When the first trailer released, I made a guess on a twist that would happen near the end of the film, and I ended up being correct. It is something that avid Goosebump readers might also have figured out before the movie, due to book plot lines and character names. It was just one of those tidbits that just popped in my head, seemingly out of nowhere. So once the twist occurred, it didn’t land too strongly.
As I was saying. Perfect Christmas film.
2 out of 4.