Tom Folske |Staff Writer
Are you looking for frightful fun, high school horror, and nerve-racking nostalgia, with a good moral lesson? Then Goosebumps is the right movie for you.
Following the traditions created by R.L. Stine in his Goosebumps book series, Rob Lettermen directs a visually fun and scary movie that every Goosebumps fan can enjoy. The screenplay was written by Darren Lemke, based on a story idea by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and it encompasses the entire Goosebumps universe.
The story is brand new and actually features R.L. Stine, who is portrayed with an interesting persona by Jack Black, as one of the lead characters. The initial plot of the movie, as even the trailers show, is that the Goosebumps books are real and the monsters are trapped in the books. The monsters are then unwittingly released by Zach (Dylan Minnette), the new kid in town who moves in next door to the Stine family; Hannah (Odeya Rush), R.L. Stine’s daughter; and Champ (Ryan Lee), the nerdy best friend.
While nailing the feel of the old books perfectly and even with the frightening monsters, Goosebumps: The Movie still maintains the family friendly quality of other comparable films like Hocus Pocus or Ernest Scared Stupid. It has an interesting and unique plot with some strong emotional bits, but it also has strange, farfetched elements that you can sometimes find in a Goosebumps novel.
The film is slightly satirical, as it pokes fun at the real R.L. Stine, who makes a brief cameo as the ironically named Mr. Black, and it even pokes a little fun at Stephen King and horror writing in general. All the jesting is done in a light-hearted fashion though and it makes the audience feel like they’re part of an inside joke as opposed to the jokes being insulting to the genre.
There are a lot of good scenes in this movie, and some great Goosebumps twists, but my favorite scene, without revealing too much about the movie, would have to be this scene where Zach, the protagonist of the film, is just starting to get to know Hannah. Her father is very peculiar and won’t let her leave the house, but she sneaks out anyway, and she takes Zach with her to her special spot. In proper Goosebumps fashion this happens to be an abandoned carnival in the middle of the woods. Here the movie does an awesome job of making the place seem both eerie and magical, like the settings of many of the books, where you might equally expect to encounter a fairy princess or The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena. The atmosphere of the carnival and the whole scene in general also captures some of the mystical qualities of youth and adventure as Hannah and Zach climb the forgotten Ferris wheel and find a seat near the top with a beautiful view of the town.
To me, this movie not only drudged up old memories of youthful story favorites, but it used the old and made it new in a way that was exciting and unique as it unfolded into a captivating tale of horror, adventure and even romance. If you are young or old, this movie will entertain you. It is safe for children who aren’t overly afraid of monsters, and adults, even those who haven’t read the books, will likely find entertainment in it as well, so go and give yourself goosebumps by seeing Goosebumps today.
I give it 4.5/5 stars.