Movie about book series excellent for any fan
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
The Goosebumps books—horror novels for children that were extremely popular in the ’90s—have sold over 350 million copies worldwide, making them one of the greatest selling series of all time. Almost everyone in North America under 30 read at least one of them as a kid: tales of living dummies, monster blood, and haunted masks. Over 20 years after the first book was published, the franchise has returned with a feature-length movie, which does not disappoint in any way for fans or casual viewers.
The movie is appropriate for any reasonably mature child. Its themes may be too scary for a six-year-old, but anyone over 10 will enjoy it on its own terms or because of nostalgia, no matter how old they are. The plot follows teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) moving to a new small town, bored and cynical with the area. He quickly meets his cute neighbour Hannah (Odeya Rush) and her creepy, shut-in father R. L. Stine, the real life and in-universe author of the Goosebumps books. Stine is played by Jack Black—yes, that Jack Black—who delivers a surprisingly fine performance. In a departure from his usual style, Black is almost unrecognizable in his role, playing Stine powerfully and creepily, but still with a large helping of comedy. He also provides the voice of unofficial Goosebumps mascot Slappy the Living Dummy, the main antagonist in the movie who’s exceptionally spooky.
As it turns out, all the monsters in the Goosebumps books are actually real, locked away in the manuscripts to stop them from wreaking havoc. Of course, they do get loose and proceed to destroy the small town. Stine has to write one final book to send the monsters away.
Practically every single monster from the series makes an appearance in this movie, if only in wide-angle shots that only a huge fan would be able to decipher. However, those less familiar with the series will still love the movie because it’s genuinely clever, charming, and hilarious. The characters are well-acted, quirky, and entertaining to watch, and the plot is a lot of fun to see escalate, if slightly predictable at times—it is, of course, a family-friendly movie.
Ultimately, this movie takes the audience on an adventure—one where we’ll do a lot of laughing, crying, and reminiscing on what it was like to be younger and be terrified by Stine’s creations. The jokes themselves are actually quite well-done for a family film, the CGI creatures are believable and beautiful, and the script is mostly straightforward and entertaining. I can’t wait for the already-announced sequel, in which the characters will take on the monstrous theme park Horrorland.
My one fanboy complaint: they never mention monster blood in this movie, one of the most iconic and memorable creations of the Goosebumps books. Who could forget the giant class hamster?
Viewers beware: you’re in for a scare.