I was part of the Goosebumps generation that was able to buy each book as they were released. In fact, I still have my complete collection of the original books in a bin under my bed. My parents would take me to buy a new book every month or so and I would lock myself in my closet with a book light, sleeping bag and pillow and lose myself in the newest adventure that R.L. Stine had given us. The same thing happened when I was old enough for Fear Street. I even starred in a Night of the Living Dummy play in middle school. It is safe to say that R.L. Stine was my childhood.
When the film was announced, I received multiple messages from friends who remembered my obsession and I immediately went to watch the trailer. I sat in excitement as my favorite Goosebumps characters graced the screen in what appeared to be a creative way to include them all into one film. I couldn’t wait to get myself into the theater to see the film in all of its glory. This weekend, I made that happen.
Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother move to Madison, Delaware and end up living next door to famous horror writer R.L. Stine (Jack Black) and his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush). Unlike his daughter, Stine is cold and unfriendly, warning Zach to stay off of his property and away from his daughter.
One night, Zach hears Hannah scream and, assuming Stine has hurt his daughter, Zach and his friend Champ (Ryan Lee) break into Stine’s house and end up finding the original Goosebumps manuscripts. Champ unlocks The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, releasing the creature within. He knocks over the shelf, releasing Slappy from Night of the Living Dummy. Slappy, angry at Stine for keeping him locked away in a book, releases all of the other characters and burns the manuscripts, making it impossible for them to be locked back inside. Now Stine, Zach, Hannah and Champ have to use their knowledge of the Goosebumps books to defeat and contain the creatures once again before they destroy everything.
I loved it, plain and simple. It was funny, creative and full of references to my favorite childhood books. As a Goosebumps fan, I was able to quickly recognize all of the creatures and the books they were from; however, I watched it with someone who never read a single one of the Goosebumps books so she didn’t appreciate the film the same way that I did. I honestly believe that people who did read the books growing up with love the film, as will younger children. Adults who did not read the books, however, will not understand the film the same way the rest of us do.
Champ said it best when he said Goosebumps were not children’s books, they were meant to keep you up at night. The film, however, will not have the same effect. It doesn’t have the scary quality that the books do, but it will make you laugh out loud on multiple occasions. Jack Black has a strange accent playing Stine that I didn’t quite understand as R.L. Stine doesn’t exactly talk that way, but Black really was perfect for that role.
Ryan Lee as Champ was my favorite character in the film. He plays the scaredy cat of the group, screaming like a girl and running away at the first sign of danger. He even looks goofy with his cheesy big toothed grin. He is exactly the kind of guy I would’ve been friends with in school.
The acting was excellent, especially by Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush, who resembles a really young Mila Kunis. Their characters, Zach and Hannah were really likeable and had great on-screen chemistry. You really wanted them to prevail and be together.
I found myself disappointed at the complete lack of Monster Blood and The Haunted Mask appearances in the film, considering they are probably the most popular books in the entire series. When Slappy mentioned his “gooey friend,” I thought for sure that Monster Blood was coming, but it turned out to be The Blob That Ate Everyone. It was still cool to see most of the creatures come together in one place though.
So, if you are a Goosebumps fan or have small children who appreciate monsters, Goosebumps is worth the money to see. You will even appreciate a subtle appearance by R.L. Stine himself. If neither applies to you, you might want to wait for Netflix because you will not understand the film in the slightest.
Goosebumps is now playing in a theater near you
========================================================================================================= Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter