GOOSEBUMPS Movie Review – A Horror-Themed Jumanji That Everyone Could Enjoy
If you’re a full grown adult somewhere between your late twenties and early thirties, chances are seeing that iconic Goosebumps font anywhere conjures up fond and frightening memories of the iconic book franchise. They young-adult books were always scarier than they had any right to be, and as revered as they were, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood got their hands on it. While not the first attempt at a live action recreation of Goosebumps, this one gets the big budget theatrical release treatment, starring Jack Black.
Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom (Amy Ryan) are leaving the big city of New York for small town Madison, Delaware, much to Zach’s chagrin. He tries to make the best of it for his mother’s sake, and while moving in, sees that next door is a friendly young lady, Hannah (Odeya Rush) with an overbearingly protective father (Jack Black). He doesn’t make much of an effort to make friends at his new school but manages to anyways when he meets the dorky, but kind of charming, Champ (Ryan Lee). Despite her father’s warnings to stay away, Zach can’t help but try to help Hannah when he thinks she’s in trouble and in turn discovering that her father is in fact R.L. Stine, and that monsters have the ability to come to life when they’re unlocked from his personal manuscripts.
The action portion of the plot is kind of silly, and if it sounds like something straight out of Jumanji, then yeah, this is a horror movie version of it. The tone is very kid friendly, but what makes Goosebumps work is that while the tone is very much for kids, adults won’t find very many boring moments at all. It’s not super scary, and some of the books are even scarier, but it manages to achieve what it sets out to.
Besides the children, Jack Black gets the bulk of the screen time here and his questionable accent notwithstanding, actually turns in a good performance here. He plays off of his cast in different ways and all of them are funny when they need to be and heartfelt when that’s called for, too. Odeya Rush is going to be a name and a face to keep an eye in the coming years. She’s already got a few films under her belt and she’s a very capable actress for being so young. There is no doubt a bright future in store for her.
Goosebumps is a perfect outing for parents of teenagers looking for a way to bond with them. There are many titles and monsters referenced here, including the ‘Night of the Living Dummy’ monster, Slappy, who is chief engineer of all the mayhem in the movie. The visual effects are good enough to make you feel like your childhood nightmares have come to life. Especially if one of your nightmares was about garden gnomes.
There are some small issues plaguing the third act that kind of ruin the fun built up in the firs two acts, and those are mostly with largely inconsequential decisions that are just kind of strange at times. Despite all of that, for alternative viewing to the ultra-scary Halloween movies you could be consuming, Goosebumps is a good way to spend some time with the whole family taking in a fun Halloween movie and opening up a new literary world to a generation that might not be familiar with some really good books.