Goosebumps’ movie a delightful and nostalgic surprise

By Ivan Mateo

I remember when I was a kid I would sort through the wares of the school book fair and would always find myself fascinated by each title and book cover in the “Goosebumps” series.

Mummies, ghosts, evil snowmen and sharks graced the book covers of the series, but nothing is more frightening than a glimpse of Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy from the “Night of the Living Dummy” installment.

With the release of “Goosebumps,” Slappy comes to the big screen to haunt audiences worldwide!

“Goosebumps” revolves around Zach Cooper (Dylan Minette) and his mother Gale (Amy Ryan). They move from New York to the relatively small and weird town of Madison, Delaware.

Zach meets his neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush), but her father R.L. Stine (Jack Black) warns Zach to stay away from his daughter and him, or something terrible will happen. Of course, Zach does not listen.

A colorful and weird cast surrounds Hannah, Zach and Stine: the only two cops in town, Zach’s fun-loving aunt (Jillian Bell) and Zach’s new friend, Champ (Ryan Lee).

“Goosebumps” features all of R.L. Stine’s characters.

Slappy the Dummy, enraged about being locked away in his book, plots to release every monster from Stine’s vault.

The movie places the focus on semi-normal Zach, who interacts with the peculiar Madison.

Some of the monstrous “Goosebumps” characters include: “The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena,” a giant mantis from “A Shocker On Shock Street” and the werewolf from “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp.”.

“Goosebumps” aficionados will notice the other R.L. Stine creations included in the film. I noticed the cuckoo clock, probably a nod to “The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.”

However, Jack Black as R.L. Stine definitely steals the show. He is equal parts grumpy, spooky, funny and caring. Black also voices Slappy the Dummy and an invisible boy.

“Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts: the beginning, the middle and the twist,” says R.L. Stine towards the end of the film.

Sometimes, films try to be complex and fail horribly at it. I appreciated how director Rob Letterman keeps the plot of “Goosebumps” simple by sticking to Stine’s formula.

You may be wondering if “Goosebumps” is a scary film, and in some instances it is. It is especially frightening for people who are terrified of dolls. There are jump scares here and there, but audiences have to remember: this is a children’s horror story.

“Goosebumps” follows the simplistic elements of humor and horror, which are found in the books; however, like in the books, Rob Letterman integrates these elements perfectly..

By following a simple plot structure, “Goosebumps” proves to be funny, spooky and all-around entertaining for audiences of all ages. With the early success of the “Goosebumps” movie, maybe kids, and even adults, will consider reading the books.

“Goosebumps” is rated PG and is currently in theaters.


Courtesy of Columbia Pictures


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