Goosebumps: Review

Written by: Stef Atega

Film | Oct 25, 2015

Goosebumps Jack Black R.L. Stine

I grew up reading Goosebumps. I remember saving all of my lunch money just so I could buy Welcome to Dead House and The Curse of Camp Cold Lake. I remember the chills I had felt while reading The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, when the scarecrows come alive for the first time. When I reread them as an adult, I realized, the stories aren't that scary and are also kind of predictable. Nonetheless, they are very memorable, especially the monsters. Having said that, watching this movie lit up my childhood heart. It was truly a satisfying tribute, and I could not ask for more.

But of course, let's get things straight. The movie doesn't pretend to be something it's not. It's not a film for aficionados to applaud, but rather, an action-filled adventure made for kids to enjoy. It was highly entertaining despite its clichés and sometimes corny humor. And the narrative was heartwarming, easy-paced and had just enough substance to keep it above average. So while staying true to the essence of the series, Goosebumps also manages to pass as a delightful family movie. 

The film starts out with Zach Cooper and his mom moving (much to Zach's discontent) to Madison, a small town in Delaware. Between moving boxes, Zach meets his next door neighbor, Hannah, who seems pretty nice. But just before they get properly acquainted, Hannah's creepy dad appears and warns Zach to stay away from them.

Nights later, after hearing a scream coming from Hannah's house, Zach and his newfound friend from school, Champ, sneak inside to rescue her. Both stumble across a study room with a bookshelf filled with Goosebumps manuscripts which, to Champ's curiosity, are locked. Champ, a fan of the books, repetitively fusses over why Hannah's dad has them in possession. To shut him up, Zach impatiently attempts to open a manuscript. Hannah, who just walked into the room at this point, frantically tries to stop Zach from prying it open.

To everyone's horror, the words from the manuscript pages magically leap out and transform into a terrifying monster known as the abominable snowman. Things get out of hand quickly, with the abominable snowman knocking down the bookshelf and releasing other monsters trapped in the manuscripts. Before causing more trouble, Hannah's dad appears just in time to save the day.

This is where the story turns meta. The film reveals Hannah's father to be R.L. Stine himself, author of the famous Goosebumps series. And the reason why his books are so good is because the monsters are real, and he keeps them trapped in his books. Now that they have the rest of the monsters to deal with, the group has to find a way to lock them all back inside a book or else they'll destroy the whole town.

The main cast performed pretty well. Jack Black, though mysterious and a bit sinister in this film, still retains his familiar style of humor. Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush, relative unknowns, are charming and have good chemistry together. Ryan Lee, as Champ, provided most of the comic relief, with his high-pitched screams and hilarious side comments. 

The film has no shortage of horror monsters: lawn gnomes, ghouls, a giant mantis, a werewolf, a clown, an abominable snowman, a talking dummy, and a whole lot more. In fact, they are the true stars of the story. Under normal circumstances, any one of these characters is enough to give the audience nightmares. Not to mention that their CGI rendering is convincingly frightening. But of course, Goosebumps is geared towards kids. The scare factor here is toned down to mild, but the movie is thrilling enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

As a whole, the Goosebumps Movie has fulfilled its purpose. Rife with nostalgia chills, it is guaranteed to give fans the goosebumps. But regardless of whether you're a fan or not, the film will still surely entertain anyone, young or old. 

About the author: Stef Atega

GameGulp's current overlord. Stef is obsessed with cats and anything horror. She also likes shounen anime and Japanese food but refuses to be called a "weeaboo". She believes in the power of indie games.

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