I think I should start off this review saying I have never read a Goosebumps novel; although I was certainly aware of them. They became popular when I was in or nearing high school so I missed the target age group for the series nor would I have been interested in them regardless because I didn’t like scary stories as a little girl.
So I can only speak about the movie and not any relation to the books. If you want to read a review by someone who has read the books check out my friend AJ’s review here.
Over all I’d say the Goosebumps movie was a pretty entertaining film. I think it did what Pixels was trying to do but was too stupid to pull off- give an 80s style movie with creatures chasing our heroes around with humor mixed in. (Some say it has a 90s nostalgia but to me it felt more like Gremlins, Ghostbusters, The Burbs- movies like that from the 80s).
It’s pretty simple story. Basically Goosebumps is about high schooler Zach (Dylan Minnette) who moves with his Mom (Amy Ryan- who was also in Bridge of Spies) when she becomes vice principal at his school.
The house next to theirs is a little creepy and there is a girl named Hannah there who seems to have an overbearing maybe even abusive father. At one point Zach calls the bumbling cops over because he hears Hannah screaming.
It turns out Hannah’s father is reclusive author RL Stein and he has all of his scary stories carefully guarded and individually locked. Zach and his friend Champ (Ryan Lee) unlock one of the books and the creature from the book comes alive and tries to kill them.
Then a character called Slappy, the dummy, gets awakened and he unleashes all the characters and burns the books so there is no way to get them back without Stine writing a new story that does just that.
Basically the rest of the movie is the group getting chased by one creature and then another until the final showdown at the high school. But it is all done with enough charm and humor that I was entertained.
One does have to wonder if Stein knew this could happen why not have the story already written ready to go just in case? But I’m overthinking it.
A lot of the credit to the films success goes to the 4 leads. Jack Black is really funny and a little creepy as RL Stein and I really liked Ryan Lee’s Champ, who consistently made me laugh.
It’s definitely pretty scary but I think it is always in a spirit of fun and there is no doubt they will all be okay so I don’t think most kids will have a problem with it. The dummy Slappy was the scariest of the creatures.
Some of the special effects were good and some could have been better like the wolfman I thought looked particularly cheesy.
It also looses some points because it starts to feel a little repetitive. Despite tons of creatures being released, most of the time it is everyone in the town frozen and the 4 leads getting chased by one creature, they outwit that and then another appears, and the cycle repeats.
It might have been nice if for one of them they had to use their brains, one had to run fast, one had to be strong etc like some of the challenges or creatures in Harry Potter. Or if the 4 leads had each brought something different to the table but they pretty much just all run around screaming from one threat to another.
That said it’s funny enough and the action keeps going fast enough that I was entertained. I think kids that like this kind of thing will really like it, and I don’t think adults will be miserable watching it.
Like I said, it could have very easily gone down the Pixels route but, this is so much more entertaining.
There is also one part in the ending I didn’t really buy but it is spoilery so I wont’ say anything. I did also like the relationship between Amy Ryan’s Mom character and her son Zach. They seemed like believable Mother-Son team.
Did you guys read the books? Are you excited to see this? I’d be curious to know what you think and if your kids find it too scary.
Overall Grade- B-