'Goosebumps' remains true to form


Do you ever get the feeling when a movie is just right? When it’s not too heavy, or too slapstick, or too anything? It’s just the right amount of whatever it is. That’s how I felt getting out of Goosebumps.

Goosebumps (the movie) follows Zach (Dylan Minnette), Champ (Ryan Lee), Hannah (Odeya Rush), and Hannah's dad, R.L. Stein (Jack Black), as they try to recapture the Goosebumps monsters that were accidentally unleashed from Stein's manuscripts.

90’s kids like me know Goosebumps all too well. It’s the book series that got most of us into the horror genre, or heck, just reading in general! It holds a special place in our hearts. But after seeing the casting and trailer of the series‘ movie adaptation, I was skeptic. It looked kind of childish; and the inclusion of Jack Black (who I adore) didn’t help dissuade that impression.

But I was wrong. Yes it was mostly geared towards a young audience, but adults have plenty to like about the movie too! I totally loved it! The adaptation of a book series I enjoyed as a kid could not have been handled any better! This was a real Goosebumps story complete with “twists and turns and frights...and a little personal growth for our hero.” (Not to mention a whole lot of laugh out loud humor!)

A genuine 'Goosebumps' story!

The movie remained true to the spirit of the books, probably even more than most book-to-movie adaptations. Goosebumps stories are known for young protagonists going on exciting adventures, light horror elements (stuff that you’d find scary as a kid, but wonder why you ever did when you grow up), and plot twists by the end. The movie has all of that, and then some!

Monster cameos!

It also had a good number of the monsters we met from the books. Diehard fans will flip when they see these characters make their way to the big screen! But knowledge of the books will have little consequence on the movie. Kids and kids at heart will enjoy it for sure!

Comparisons to Jumanji are probably unavoidable. On both movies you have a family unit trying to stop creatures from destroying their small town. Even the way the monsters are sucked back into the manuscripts is heavily reminiscent of the way the Jumanji creatures went back to the board game. But while Jumanji is still generally the more impactful of the two, Goosebumps still delivers a really good, really enjoyable, horror-adventure romp.

A fun and funny adventure perfect of the Halloween season!

One possible reason why Jumanji was more gripping and grave is because of Goosebumps’ considerable humor content. I’m not complaining though. The humor was very well done and had everyone in the cinema laughing their faces off! Part slapstick, part sarcastic, part deadpan humor; it’s one of the bigger reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (even though it effectively offsets the movie’s spookier elements).

Slappy _1416858073
Only a few monsters were actually scary...

The horror elements were hit and miss. Some felt genuinely creepy, like that ventriloquist dummy, Slappy (also voiced by Jack Black). You could feel the killer vibe from that thing even though he really just sits there. (Or maybe it might just be me. Dolls just generally creep me out.) The other monsters didn’t feel as intimidating. (The werewolf was wearing rubber shoes for crying out loud! And those gnomes were actually pretty adorable…you know, if they weren’t trying to kill you all the time.) Most of the monster designs felt too cartoony and there was something off about the digital effects that made them stand out. The interaction with the actors and environment weren’t as seamless and this takes you out of the experience. You’re conscious that they’re not there, and that’s a definite no-no when watching a movie as heavily reliant on digital effects as Goosebumps. But I’m sure kids would have still found it scary, which is really what the monsters were intended for.

...some just weren't. Especially whack a gnome over here.

What adults can appreciate though (aside from the humor) was the subtly clever script. The movie was homage to the books, so much so that the script actually felt self-aware and self-congratulatory. At one point R.L. Stein even describes what a Goosebumps story is. It felt like it was addressed to the audience and seemed to describe the movie we were watching! That’s not the only time it went all meta on the audience and I loved every brilliant bit of it! (Especially, THAT CAMEO.)

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That moment when you're not sure if the movie character is talking to other characters, OR YOU.

Goosebumps had an uncomplicated plot, just the right amount of action and exposition, and finds the exact balance between horror and comedy. It was very jovial and sprightly amidst all the monster mayhem. It flowed very well – never letting up and never dropping the ball. Like I said, it was just the right amount of everything and you leave the cinema with a natural high!

Lean but delightful cast!

Goosebumps had a lean but exceptional cast. All of them were on point, delivering believable scares and sharp comedic timing. Especially Ryan Lee, who I found superbly hilarious even after I originally assumed him to be “the annoying one”. R.L. Stein was the most nuanced character, but Black had a firm handle on it. He started off being an over-the-top, grumpy recluse but eventually grows into a more open, considerate being. And obviously, anytime he’s given comedic material, it’s golden! He also does a great job voicing and giving unique personas to Slappy and the Invisible Boy.

Black = Stein = Black (You'll get it when you watch)

Goosebumps is nostalgia galore! It’s going to delight you with old-fashioned horror and adventure and non-stop comedic beats, at the same time reminding older fans what it was like reading all those incredible stories from way back when. It’s definitely a movie you want to watch with the whole family this Halloween season!



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