Reader beware you’re in for a scare! In 1992 the first in what would become a long running series of books, under the banner of Goosebumps, was released from the author R.L. Stine, it was the book Welcome to Dead House. Soon enough this line of books was a worldwide sensation, as well as it’s run of written stories, it spawned a TV series and now a film. How it took so long to make a film I do not know, but for now I’m just happy they made one…or am I?
No, really I am! Why? I may be 29 years old this year but the original series of books was released in the midst of my youth, and I was captivated. To be honest R.L. Stine may very well be responsible for my love of the horror genre all together. Anyway to the film.
Zach (Dylan Minette) has just moved town with his mother, and is still hurting from the loss of his father. Whilst moving in the next door neighbours draw his attention. A pretty young girl called Hannah (Odeya Rush) catches his eye, and her eccentric father (Jack Black) his intrigue. After being warned off from speaking to Hannah, Zach worries for her safety after hearing a scream late at night. Refusing to believe she is ok Zach and Champ (Ryan Lee), a new friend from school, break into the house to find her. As they make their way through the house they find a bookcase full of Goosebumps manuscripts, but for some reason they are all locked. Thinking they are intruders Hannah attacks them, and one of the books accidentally opens and the creatures contained within leap out from the page and into life. In an interesting turn they discover Hannah’s eccentric father is actually famed Goosebumps author R.L.Stine, and that all of his stories are in fact real, and to keep them contained they must be locked into their stories. Unfortunately for Stine, Zach, Hannah and Champ, one of his creations is about to open up every book he ever wrote.
As you might have guessed, Goosebumps is a family friendly horror film, a strange combination of words for sure but suitable ones nonetheless. In the same vein as the books that have went on to sell hundreds of millions of copies worldwide, the film is short, fast, and packed with fun, as well as a few frights for good measure. As soon as Zach moves into his new home, we get a brief glimpse of his background and an introduction to the seemingly kooky neighbour and the scene is set. No time is wasted in getting to the thrills as the kids unwittingly unleash all of R.L. Stines creations into the real world, and struggle to put them back in their place.
As an adult watching the film and seeing a multitude of familiar monsters hit the big screen, my nostalgia was at an all time high. There are only fleeting glimpses of some creatures, but if you were a fan you’ll recognise them immediately. Though Goosebumps is a rollicking roller coaster of action and fun that moves at 100mph from chase to the next, those adults who never read the series of books may struggle to get much more from the film. For the kids it’s a blast, constant action with the softer side of horror makes the film an intriguing watch. As per many of the Goosebumps stories there are a few twists and turns along the way that even I didn’t see coming. I only wish I could have seen this as a child whilst I was reading the books, my mind most likely would have been blown.
Goosebumps is not without it’s flaws, the speedy pace of the film means we fast forward through the development of relationships and character development, and the brave decision to cram nearly every Goosebumps monster into the narrative makes a lot of their inclusion wasteful, and unnecessary. Once the monsters are unleashed it is essentially one chase sequence after another. I also had no idea what was going on with Jack Black’s accent, it was just weird. But hey this is a PG rated kids film, who needs fully developed characters and a tightly knit story? We want Slappy!
All in all Goosebumps is a modern day version of The Monster Squad. A fun filled ride that does everything one would expect it to. For the children it’s an action packed film with plenty comedy to keep the tone light. For the adults it’ a nostalgia driven trip down memory lane for all those who remember the books and the TV show. A great family film which made me feel 8 years old all over again.