Having never read a Goosebumps book in my life, I probably have a very interesting take on the 2015 live action “Goosebumps” film, based on the popular 90’s book series. The film centers around a teenage boy named Zach who just happens to move next door to Goosebumps author R. L. Stine played by Jack Black. After Zach becomes infatuated with Stine’s teenage daughter Hannah he and his friend Champ break into the Stine’s house to attempt to help her when they think she is in danger. Before they find her they come across a room full of locked manuscripts they identify as “Goosebumps” book titles. After unintentionally opening one of the books the monsters that the books are written about come to life. Through a series of unfortunate events (see what I did there) all the books get opened and every single monster that R. L. Stine ever wrote about comes to life and wreaks havoc on the town!
I’d imagine if I had grew up reading all the Goosebumps books it would have been quite a thrill to see all the monsters from all the books on the screen! It was still fun to watch the monsters run amok even though there was no clear reason why all the monsters were so hell-bent on trying to attack the town’s people, I guess that’s just what monsters do. That being said, I never really felt like there was any real danger which made the film unsuspenseful. I found the plot to be a little dumbed down for my taste. I didn’t really buy the explanation of why the monsters came to life and I didn’t really buy the plan to stop them. That being said, I did find the film very visually entertaining, the mix of practical effects and CG was very dazzling to the eye. Also the film is actually pretty funny. This is due to great performances from Ryan Lee (Super 8), Ken Marino (The State), Jillian Bell (Workaholics) and of course the great Jack Black! There were many laugh out loud moments that I found very amusing even though they may go over the heads of the film’s target audience.
The screening I attended was a sneak preview at The Cinefamily in Hollywood. After the movie there was a Q&A with Jack Black, the film’s director Rob Letterman (Monster vs. Aliens) and the film’s main cast Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee. It was quite a thrill to see Jack Black in person, who was effortlessly hilarious with his comments and responses. They also had a gallery and silent action of original Goosebumps cover art with artist Tim Jacobus on hand signing posters and books. And to top it all off they had a Photo Booth set up so that bump you in the cover of a Goosebumps book! This was the ultimate event for any Goosebumps fan!
I don’t think adult horror fans who have never read a Goosebumps book are going to get too much out of this movie. But it may be the perfect movie to take the elementary school aged child in your life to go see. It may just turn them into a horror fan, the same way “Monster Squad” and “Gremlins” did for me.
by James H. Carter II