This was a week of horror films for me; one for adults and the other, kid friendly. Unlike Crimson Peak, which I reviewed and considered too frightening for the PG13 crowd, Goosebumps was perfect for both children and adults. My grandsons grew up on R.L. Stine‘s stories with the Goosebumps series being their favorite, but would this film do justice to the books? Stay close, my little ones. It’s going to be a wild ride.
Goosebumps is a 2015 life-action, computer-animated horror comedy based on the children book series by R.L. Stine. It was directed by Rob Letterman and written by Darren Lemke from a story by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The producers, Deborah Forte and Neal H. Moritz had developed the television series. The film stars Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee and Jillian Bell.
Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) move from New York to Madison Delaware because of his mother, Gale (Amy Ryan) was offered the job of vice-principal of a high school. It’s hard fitting into any new school, but when your mom is the vice-principal, life can be tough. Luckily Zach makes friends with the school nerd, Champ (Ryan Lee), who reminded me of a very young Pee-wee Herman.
The film has your normal wacky adults, like Zach’s Aunt Lorraine (Jillian Bell) who is looking for Mr. Right and, the funniest police force since the “Twin Peaks” series with Timothy Simons as Officer Stevens and Amanda Lund as Officer Brooks.
Zach’s next door neighbors, Hannah (Odeya Rush) and her father (Jack Black) keep isolated from the other neighbors because of a dark secret. Jack falls hard for Hannah, but when no one believes his suspicions that Hannah is being held captive by her father, he and Champ break into the house.
Jack’s attempt to rescue Hannah unlocks the books that keep the monsters from running amok on the unsuspecting world. There is a nasty ventriloquist’s dummy named Slappy that is out for revenge against Stine.
I remember reading these books to my grandsons whenever they slept over my house. By special request from the youngest, I had to do the voices for all the characters in the book. The books, which had just the right combination of horror and humor, were scary enough for them to ask me to leave the nightlight on for them, but never scary enough to cause nightmares.
The boys are grown now: one is a marine; the other is going into the navy, and the youngest is thirteen and has a part in an upcoming horror story, Shadows of the Forest. They play games like Assassins Creed and World of WarCraft. I doubt they would be frightened by R.L. Stine’s books now.
My sister and I, who grew up seeing real ghosts like those featured in Crimson Peak, really enjoyed Goosebumps. It was a blast watching all the monsters from the Goosebumps books come to life on the screen. Some of the monsters were a little scary, but there was enough humor to balance out the film for younger children as they watch Zach, Champ and Hannah trying to return the Goosebumps monsters back to the books they came from.
Jack Black did a good job of playing his Stine as a paranoid grumpy writer determined to keep the characters that he’d created from taking over the real world. Sometimes, that’s near impossible to do. Sometimes, the characters become real. Many a Sci-fi, fantasy or horror writer can swear to this.
I would give a Granny thumbs up for this film and, if you go see it, look for the real R.L. Stine as Mr. Black the new drama teacher at Zach’s school.