The haunted season has begun as director Rob Letterman and Columbia Pictures break the binding on books by R.L. Stein with “Goosebumps.”
Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (Amy Ryan) are beginning a new life in a small town after a death in the family. On day one things are starting to look good when Zach meets the literal girl-next-door Hannah (Odeya Rush). The problem is her father who makes it clear that Zach is to keep his distance!
On the first day of school Zach meets Champ (Ryan Lee) who is basically looking for a friend to meet girls with, but learns that Zach’s mother is the new Vice Principal at the high school. But Zach’s interest is Hannah and through a series of misunderstandings, he sneaks to see her and discovers her father is none other than R.J. Stine – the writer.
Opening one of Stine’s original manuscripts, a monster emerges and the only way to stop it is by getting the large creature back into the book. Thinking that’s done, it is to Stein’s dismay to discover that a dummy named Slappy has escaped and his only focus is releasing every monster from all of the books.
Terrorizing the town, Zach, Hannah, Champ and Stein are running out of time to stop the monsters and there is only one way to do it – get them all back inside the pages of a book!
Minnette as Zach is obvious the cute teen heartthrob in the film. He provides a few laughs, good action scenes, kiss-face for the girls but not to much in the way of family emotion. Rush as Hannah could easily be Mila Kunis’ little sister as she spends her time trying to have a life outside of her father. Rush is sweet and even endearing.
Lee as Champ is the continual constant relief during the stressful scenes for the teen set and Jillian Bell as Aunt Lorraine gives the adults something to giggle about.
Ken Marion is Coach Carr; Halston Sage is Taylor, Keith Bolden as Principal Garris, Amanda Lund as Officer Brooks and Timothy Simons as Officer Stevens.
Black as Stein is a rocky character and the only scene that really made me laugh is when he goes crazy as being compared to Stephen King. It isn’t until the last frame of the film did I see the character have so much to offer. Of course as the voice of Slappy, Black gives him the right amount of creepy!
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Goosebumps” three tubs of popcorn out of five. This is a film directed at fans of the books absolutely. It has plenty of the creatures known to be in R.L. Stein books and the special effects are pretty good.
One problem for me is Black’s speech. I’m not sure what was going on there. It popped in and out between an accent and no accent? I wasn’t sure and, to be honest, it irritated me to no end. Add to that the fact that his character had no other emotion other than looking bug eyed in scenes just didn’t do anything for me.
This film obviously tried to be many things to many people but first and foremost to Goosebumps fans. I have enjoyed the books and even the television show but found the story line only satisfactory. I did enjoy the special effects and even enjoyed Slappy being as bad a dummy as he wanted to be.
R.L. Stein created over sixty-two books from 1992 to 1997. The stories also made it into comic books before being adapted for television. R. L. Stein has sold over 350 million copies of his work and brings his brand of scary to even more.
In the end — the stories are alive!