Movie Review: “Goosebumps”
Previous renditions of “Goosebumps” found on VHS hardly compare to the 2015 “Goosebumps” masterpiece. Director Rob Letterman successfully brings R.L. Stine’s extensive body of work to life through his new film, “Goosebumps.”
Letterman’s film follows Zach Cooper, played by Dylan Christopher Minnette (“Scandal,” “Lost”), who relocates to Madison, Delaware with his mother (Amy Ryan, “The Office,” ”Gone Baby Gone”). Early in the movie, Zach meets 16-year-old neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush, “The Giver”) who remains mysterious after her father (Jack Black, “Kung Fu Panda,” “School of Rock”) tells Zach to leave her alone.
One night, Zach hears an argument between Hannah and her father and decides to investigate. He calls on his friend Champ (Ryan Scott Lee, “Super 8”) to help him break into Hannah’s house. As they look for Hannah, the two discover a bookshelf. Upon opening a book, they accidentally release the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, a character found in the 38th book of the Goosebumps series. Zach, Ryan and Hannah take off into town to find the monster and put him back into the book. During the process, Hannah’s father comes to the rescue and admits each of his books has the power to bring monsters to life. Unbeknownst to the gang at first, other books also fell off the shelf and released additional monsters, who are now wreaking havoc on the town.
“Goosebumps” draws inspiration from the book series by Stine, and the author offered Scholastic Entertainment dozens of monsters to choose from for the creation of the movie. The Goosebumps collection includes four different series of books; the original series (1992-1997), “Give Yourself Goosebumps,” (1995-2000) where the reader chooses his or her own ending, “Goosebumps 2000” (1998-2000) and “Goosebumps Most Wanted.”
Dozens of monsters from the collection make an appearance in the film, including the praying mantis from “A Shocker on Shock Street,” the body squeezers from “Invasion of the Body Squeezers” and Fifi the vampire poodle from “Please Don’t Feed the Vampire!”
The film includes decent twists and turns and appeals to a broad audience from kids to adults and twenty-somethings that still act like kids. At times, the dialogue reveals a little too much of the marketing scheme behind the curtain. After the release of the monsters, side-kick Champ asks Stine, “Why couldn’t you have written about rainbows and unicorns?!” to which Stine replies, “Because that doesn’t sell 400 million copies!”
The movie reads like “Jumanji 2”, thus adding the double threat of nostalgia. Viewers can look forward to a cameo from R.L. Stine himself and enjoy recalling the books as they are mentioned. “Goosebumps” also includes average special effects but nothing too distracting.
“Goosebumps” offers funny, cheesy and freaky elements, remaining true to the spirit of the books. For those that never picked up a Goosebumps book, you might feel left out, but the plot remains simple enough to follow.
“Goosebumps” (PG, 103 min) is now playing at Regal Gallery Place.