The first thing I thought when I heard of Goosebumps as a motion picture is simply, how? Goosebumps opens with Zach Cooper (played brilliantly by Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (The Office‘s Holly) leaving New York to start a new life in Madison where her silly aunt lives. Zach lives in the suburbs with white fence and tall green trees everywhere. Being a teenager, Zach wander off into his next door neighbour’s house and met Hannah (Odeya Rush) and her scary father, Mr Shivers (the versatile Jack Black). The two had an instant chemistry, which lead them to explore the town’s abandoned fun house. However, problem arises when Zach heard Hannah screams in the middle of the night and broke into their house only to find a bookshelf containing series of Goosebumps books. Little did he know that Mr Shivers, is actually R.L Stine, the author of Goosebumps, and the manuscripts locked in his bookshelf contains magic – open the book and the horrific creatures will come to life!
With so many books to choose from (and not all of them are movie-worthy), I feel screenwriter Darren Lemke did a wonderful job for this film. Although the plot bear resemblance to 90s classic Jumanji or Inkheart, the movie is not short of fun adventures. The horrific creatures from the books will entertain both children and adults (especially if you grew up with the books/series). For instance, there is the three-feet tall Snowman, the werewolf in basketball shorts, the invisible child and my favourite, Slappy, the talking dummy from Night of the Living Dummy series. Like I said above, not all the characters are movie worthy but somehow between the flying dog and Body Squeezers the movie made it work.
I think you will agree for years now we haven’t got any decent “kids” movie that is not an animation, and for that reason only Goosebumps scores high in my book. The movie doesn’t focus on being original and it doesn’t take itself seriously by overdoing stuff. There are scenes where you will laughed out loud and the ones where you will only chuckle from the goofiness you expect to find in any kid-friendly movies. Rob Letterman’s direction itself is fresh and cheesy fun. He doesn’t dwell into the characters too much nor with the monsters – it’s rightfully balanced with great editing work. The spooky creatures itself can only work if the human counterparts are enjoyable as well. For instance, imagine if Zach Cooper is a bratty teenage boy who hates his new town? Or if R.L Stine doesn’t hate “Steve” King? Or if Aunt Lorraine is not a giant goofball?
Goosebumps is entertaining because it relies on nostalgia and good old-fashioned fun – a movie I will definitely be re watching.