Wednesday, October 21, 2015

[Review] Goosebumps

"Kids books are supposed to put you to sleep. These books keep you awake all night."

This reboot of the beloved, spooky book series Goosebumps had a good chance of being hit or miss, and luckily, it turns out to be a globby blast.

The sarcastic teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother (Amy Ryan) move into a new town. The nextdoor neighbors happen to be the unpleasant and reclusive R.L. Stine (played by Jack Black), along with his sheltered, yet adventurous daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush). One night after witnessing some suspicious activity through the window, Zach and his goofy friend Champ (Ryan Lee) sneak into Stine's *It looks haunted* house and unlock some secrets in the form of magical books where the monsters literally leap off of the page.

All the creatures from the Goosebumps universe unleash--vengeful Lawn Gnomes, The Invisible Boy, and Slappy from Night of the Living Dummy (who is actually kind of creepy), to name a few. This is a really efficient way to get them all together. You might as well go big, and that's exactly what the filmmakers do. Hints of Ghostbusters and Jumanji ring in as the film launches into non-stop, frantic action as the beasts terrorize the town and the crew attempts to get them back into their respective books. Setpieces include The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena in a hockey rink and The Werewolf of Fever Swamp in a grocery store. The CGI looks pretty good, so you don't get that corny off-putting factor.

There's a sense of wonderment from the beginning, and in the spirit of Goosebumps, a couple of early jump scares set the mood. The script brings the funnies as well. The chuckle-worthy humor includes embarrassing moments that we can watch from a distance, spoopy slapstick, Champ's constant comic relief, and some referential quips about authors who write scary stuff. There's even a bit of heart here, regarding loneliness and the loss of loved ones.

If you're looking for heavy horror, this isn't the place. But it's a fun Halloween adventure for kids and families, and even 20-somethings like me that grew up reading these books and still have them stashed away safely.


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