Goosebumps the movie: “Scary, but not too scary”

Just in time for Halloween, this spook fest pulls back the curtains on RL Stine, the author of the popular kids’ horror series Goosebumps

Watch creatures and ghouls from the popular “Goosebumps” series by RL Stine come to life.
Watch creatures and ghouls from the popular “Goosebumps” series by RL Stine come to life.

Viewers beware — you’re in for a scare. Though, if you’re a grown up, you’ll probably be more entertained than scared.

Goosebumps, the movie, revives the series of horror novels of the same name, which many kids of the 1990s grew up reading.

The “Goosebumps” series of books was known to have kooky yet spooky covers that were sometimes borderline unsettling, such as a sinister-looking puppet, murderous garden gnomes and a shrunken human head in a child’s bedroom. Still, they possessed a strange magnetism that piqued the curiosity of many a young bookworm.

Now, this series is back in a retro film reboot that both adults and kids can enjoy.

 

CREATURE FEATURE

Jack Black plays children’s author RL Stine, who wrote spooky yet kooky kids’ horror stories in the ‘90s.

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Interestingly, this new movie that’s directed by Rob Letterman (who was also behind Shark Tale and Monsters vs Aliens) takes a leaf from almost every book in the original series.

After moving to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) makes friends with his neighbour, Hannah Stine (Odeya Rush). Her father is none other than the author of the “Goosebumps” stories, RL Stine, portrayed by the live wire, Jack Black (star of School of Rock and Kung Fu Panda).

One day, Zach unintentionally opens one of Mr Stine’s manuscripts — a fateful act that unleashes a host of his monstrous and ghoulish creations including Slappy the Dummy, the Abominable Snowman, giant praying mantises and even living lawn gnomes.

Zach and Hannah must work together with him and use his knowledge of the creatures’ powers and weaknesses to recapture them before their town gets overrun by nasty demons.

 

THRILLS AND SPILLS FOR THE FAMILY

Zach (right, Dylan Minnette) must work with his new neighbours Mr RL Stine (left, Jack Black) and his daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush), to recapture the monsters of Stine’s creation.

If you’re worried that these otherworldly creatures may be too terrifying for your kids, rest assured that Stine himself made sure that the young ones would not be scared silly.

Before filming started, Black and Letterman had lunch with Stine, who advised them to “make sure it’s scary but not too scary because, remember, in my audience there are a lot of kids”. And when Stine saw the script, he gave it a thumbs-up.

The end result is a fun movie that Black’s own kids — seven and nine years old — found “super-exciting but not terrifying”.

 

STRANGER DANGER?

Being a fan and collector of the original “Goosebumps” books, I can’t help but have a sneaking suspicion that the movie might follow in the footsteps of the novels.

Stine is known to lure his readers in with familiar places and people, before flooring you with a jaw-dropping revelation.

In this case, I’m sure we’re in for a bumpy ride beyond the threat of the monsters.

So, even if you’re an adult and Stine’s ghouls and freaks don’t scare you, you (probably) won’t be disappointed by the plot.

Don’t let your guard down for a minute. The titular “Goosebumps” may arrive not from the creepy creatures but from the hair-raising revelation at the end. I know I can’t wait.

 

By Pamela Chow

 

Goosebumps [PG]

Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Amy Ryan & Odeya Rush
Genre: Action, Comedy
Run length: 103 min
Release: 29 Oct

 

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