Based on the best selling books and TV show from the mind of R.L. Stine, Goosebumps is a film that feels like its made for the fans. When the monsters are unleashed and chaos ensues, the film turns into a joyful game of who’s who as they tussle for screen time. Its story is serviceable and Jack Black once again shines but as a family feature, Goosebumps is a good little film even if it is a little disappointing that so many memorable stories are portrayed as nothing more than a 5 minute segment.
Just like many stories in the Goosebumps franchise, the film opens with a teenager. In this example its Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette), who#’s life gets turned upside down when he’s forced to move away from the big city with his parents and live in a small town. Once there, he meets Hannah (Odeya Rush) who reveals her Dad is none other than R.L. Stine (Jack Black). As events transpire, it turns out the monsters in Stine’s books were real and Zach’s accidentally released all of them from their books. Now teamed up with Stine and Hannah, its up to the three of them to track down the monsters and stop them before they destroy the town completely.
Its a fun ride and told with enough lighthearted humour to stop it sinking into horror and alienating the younger audience who will surely love the visual design here. There are a few scenes that are borderline creepy but overall, Goosebumps is a family film and one that absolutely caters to the fans of the series. Right from the formulaic teenager protagonist to the larger-than-life monsters, Goosebumps could easily be misinterpreted as a by the numbers generic film to anyone unfamiliar to the material but for those accustomed to the franchise, this is the cornerstone of the franchise.
There are times where it feels a little stretched and a lot of this is simply down to the sheer amount of stuff the film throws in. Unleashing 100+ monsters into the world seems like a cool idea on the surface and seeing all them together in a wide shot brings nostalgic giddiness, especially with Slappy the dummy at the forefront leading the pack. Of course, with so many monsters most are reduced to a 5 minute cameo or a background shot which won’t necessarily please everyone who might be anxiously awaiting a favourite or wondering why the killer clown or Jack O Lanterns are shown but never featured, but their disappointing exclusions aren’t a deal breaker.
Jack Black is excellent as R.L. Stine here and his quirky portrayal is a more restrained version of his usual eccentricity on screen which works wonders for the mad character. The others are simply there along for the ride complete with the usual protagonist traits for each but there is a nice twist with this one though that will catch you off guard which was a nice touch and as a family feature, Goosebumps does well in keeping the fun flowing from start to finish.
For all its fan service and general desire to please fans, even those who’ve never heard of this franchise before can walk in and enjoy it. Of course, fans are the ultimate winners of course and they will get more out of this than the average moviegoer. On the surface, Goosebumps is a generic by the numbers film that simply ticks the check-boxes to deliver a film based on the source material but for those who love the books and the TV show you couldn’t ask for more from a Goosebumps film to please fans and newcomers alike.