As a kid, you may have been a fan of the Goosebumps collection of stories, by R.L. Stine. As an adult, you may still be a fan of the horror books. Well for all fans, you now have the Goosebumps movie to enjoy, encapsulating all the ghoulish and monstrous characters into one fantastical story.
This film has its definite merits, but also has its failings too. To give it credit, Goosebumps is indisputably fun, enjoyable, creative and spectacular. However, its shortfalls are equally notable. It’s a rather convoluted storyline, desperately trying to incorporate all the characters in all the books, which results in a dilution of some potentially magnificent monsters and produces somewhat silly scenes, with a mass of zombies, ghosts, mythical creatures and ghouls. What we’re often left with, is messy sequences, lacking sense or effectiveness.
When individual characters are focused upon, some truly thrilling scenes are created, as in the case of those involving the ‘abominable snowman’ and ‘werewolf’. One particularly gripping scene, involved the ‘werewolf’ chasing the protagonists through an abandoned supermarket. The evocation of fear, tension, suspense, drama and excitement is all one could ask for from such a film. If only such occasions weren’t so thinly spread.
Despite my previous criticisms, if one looks upon the movie as purely for children, its attributes are actually very effective. Kids notoriously have short attention spans, and so having a vast array of creatures to skip through is really quite wise, to keep their interest and excitement flowing. The exuberantly fantastical and overcrowded scenes are, again, just the sort of thing that would delight an excitable and fervent young mind.
There’s a stellar cast with the enthusiastic young leads of Dylan Minnette, as the bold and heroic Zach; a future lead actor in the making, Odeya Rush as Hannah; potentially a Hollywood star, with her alluring screen presence and Ryan Lee, as Champ, the classic zany and quirky sidekick. They’re assisted by the seasoned professional, charismatic and commanding Jack Black, as R.L. Stine, ‘Slappy’ the ventriloquist dummy and ‘The Invisible Boy’, adding flesh and gravitas to the movie. Director Rob Letterman allows him to release his unbridled extravagance, showcasing Jack Black in his element.
As already stated, the storyline is rather contrived, as we see Zach inadvisably opening one of Stine’s books and releasing ‘The Abominable Snowman’, leading to all of the books to be opened and a multitude of nightmarish characters to be released. Our four heroes then proceed on their quest to pull them all back into their books, safely locked away. There are many similarities to the film Inkheart, making the story unfold in a slightly unoriginal way. Perhaps because of the difficulty in pulling together the jumbled plot.
As a spectacle, in particularly for children, Goosebumps hits all the right notes, with big colourful sequences, appropriately spooky scenery and gigantic monsters, even if some of the CGI was a bit dubious. Even with its aforementioned inadequacies, you couldn’t really ask for much more in terms of entertainment for the kiddies!