This review was published in November 2015. Also, this series was previously titled “Kid Tested – Uncle Approved”
I was an avid reader and collector of RL Stine’s “Goosebumps” series in my youth. Just scary enough to keep me enticed, but not so scary that I got nightmares. My mom had a ton of Stephen King novels and my siblings read Stine’s older young adult series “Fear Street”, but “Goosebumps” were perfect for an overly-imaginative kid like me. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I was enticed by two things: “Hey, a ‘Goosebumps’ movie!” and Jack Black in the lead role. When it showed up on Netflix, I decided to give it a shot.
We begin meeting Zach Cooper and his mom Gale (Dylan Minnette, “Scandal”, “Let Me In” and Amy Ryan, “Gone Girl”, “The Wire”) on their way to their new home in Delaware where she will be the new vice principal. Zach meets his new neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush, “The Giver”, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”) and her over-protective father Mr. Shivers (Jack Black, you know him). That night, Hannah invites Zach to an abandoned amusement park and they watch the sunset together from atop the Ferris wheel. They like each other, guys. It’s cute.
When they get home, Mr. Shivers is furious and threatens Zach if he ever bothers him or Hannah again. That night, Zach hears Shivers and Hannah arguing, then her screaming and a loud crash. He calls the police, but Shivers convinces them Hannah isn’t there and what Zach heard was the TV. After convincing Shivers to go make a full statement at the police station, Zach and his new friend Champ (Ryan Lee, “Super 8”, “This is 40”) break into Shivers’ house but find no sign of Hannah. Instead, they find a shelf full of locked “Goosebumps” manuscripts and to appease Champ’s curiosity, Zach opens one to prove there’s no threat. Hannah startles him and he drops the book, releasing the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena. WHOA. They chase it to a local ice rink where Shivers is able to trap it back into the manuscript.
Turns out Shivers is actually reclusive author RL Stine and when they return home, they find Slappy, a ventriloquist dummy from the book “The Night of the Living Dummy” and frequent villain in other stories. Furious about being locked up in the manuscript, Slappy burns it and escapes in the Haunted Car, another staple of the series. Then things go south real fast as more and more creatures and monsters escape from the pages of their books. The only way to stop them is for Stine to use his special typewriter which is on display at the high school to write a new story. It’s a race against the clock (and lots and lots of monsters) to stop them all before they destroy the entire town!
“Goosebumps” book fans will have a great time watching this movie. Even having not read the books in at least 20 years, I still enjoyed the movie quite a bit, though was a little lost as to who was whom. The story got a little messy once all the monsters are released and run a muck, but it was still very entertaining. It might be a little scary for younger kids, but if they’re reading the books, they should be okay. The scariest, for me, was Slappy, but who’s not afraid of creepy dummies? Kids and adults who like scary stories can find something to enjoy in “Goosebumps”. I recommend it!
4 out of 5 Snack Packs
Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor and filmmaker living in Vermont. He loves scary stories and hopes to make a horror movie someday. Until then, follow his work at http://www.lincolnlhayes.com