GoosebumpsTitle: Goosebumps (2015)
Director: Rob Letterman
Runtime: 103 minutes

I’m going to say it up front: I am a huge Goosebumps fan. Ever since the original books were released, I’ve been buying them. I have read every single one of them at least once, and the original sixty-three titles at least twice. My excitement for this film was fairly high as it sounded like the most logical way to bring the story to life.

Zach and his mom are moving from New York City to Mason, Delaware. He has a strange new neighbor who has a niece that shows him around the new town. The neighbor has a secret, though, and doesn’t want his niece to leave the house because only trouble can come from it. Why? Because he is R.L. Stine, the author of Goosebumps, and he’s pretty much gone into hiding after the series ended. Zach quickly discovers that Stine keeps manuscripts of each book in their own little, locked case, and accidentally opens the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, unleashing the creature on the neighborhood. Next thing you know, other books are opened by Slappy, the dummy from Night of the Living Dummy, and all the creatures want to capture Stine.

I sat in the theater with a big ol’ grin on my face as the creatures all came to life in front of me. Not every creature gets screen time, and some big ones seem to be missing. For example, the Haunted Mask is only ever mentioned by name. The special effects are really cartoon-like, which works with the style the film is going for. I also loved the little minor details to some of the creatures, mainly the lawn gnomes, which were both funny and creepy, and they even do a nod to another Jack Black film. It’s these little pokes that makes the film feel so full of life.

While this isn’t as “mature” as The Monster Squad, Goosebumps definitely gives off a similar vibe, and it makes me excited that a new generation of kids can have that kind of film to look back on when they’re older. Goosebumps is seriously fun. It makes sure that you know it isn’t a serious film, and that you just need to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Jack Black is one of my least favorite actors. It’s not that he’s terrible or anything, I just find him annoying. I was a little apprehensive about him being in the movie, but he’s enjoyable here as Stine, even if the accent is a little odd. The rest of the young cast members all have nice resumes behind them. Dylan Minnette, playing Zach, was in Prisoners and Let Me In. Meanwhile, Odeya Rush,  playing Hannah, is from The Giver. Even the goofy sidekick, played by Ryan Lee, is amusing without being annoying.

Goosebumps isn’t going to wow or amaze you, or make you re-think tween cinema, but even my other half, who has never read a single Goosebumps book, was entertained by the film. It’s one of those rare films that is just straight-up fun. It lacks horror, but makes up for it with humor and cool creatures, which is a dream come true for fans of the novels. Hopefully this does well enough to earn a sequel, and lets us get even more of the creatures we love on the big screen.

three_and_a_half_stars

Fandango

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.