Horror Movies: Goosebumps

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About: Goosebumps is a Horror Comedy Movie starring Jack Black as R.L. Stine himself. The basic premise is that all of R.L. Stine’s monsters that he has written are so realistic that they have actually come alive from off the pages of his books. He keeps the manuscripts locked up in order to protect against the monsters escaping. Zack and friend (named Champ… Yes, that’s short for Champion), newly moved in to the neighborhood and after a series of events, release said monsters from the manuscripts, including the notoriously evil dummy, Slappy. The film had positive reviews for the most part, earning a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. There is also a cameo with R.L. Stine himself at the end playing a Mr. Black.

Reader beware! You’re in for a scare…

And spoilers.

The Plot/Characters: Goosebumps the movie’s plot centers around Zack Cooper, a new student who recently transferred from New York to Madison, Delaware. Stereo-typically, he is upset at leaving home. He meets a girl next door named Hannah who calls out to him while he is unpacking only to be warned immediately after speaking with her by her dad to stay away. The father, Mr. Shivers, catches them out together later and flips out, bringing his daughter home and warning them once more. Afterward, Zack thinks he sees Mr. Shivers striking his daughter and calls the cops. They show up only for Shivers to deny that Hannah is even there. After investigating further and roping a new and rather socially awkward friend named Champ into the situation, they break in to the home to search for Hannah but discover a ton of R.L. Stine manuscripts inside. After opening one with a key, they come to find out that they have just done the unthinkable and unleashed the Abominable Snowman. In the confusion, another book titled The Night of the Living Dummy also ends up opened, releasing Slappy who proceeds to unleash all of the rest of the monsters from the books. Together, Zack, Hannah, Champ and Mr. Shivers (revealed to truly be R.L. Stine) must race to put the monsters back in the books where they belong.

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Pretty simple, right? The plot also comes complete with a few twists and turns, as any good Goosebumps book tended to do. The final one includes a monster who was not sucked back into the books though, to me, this is a major plot hole as the way that everything happened with R.L. Stine returning the monsters to the books, ALL monsters should have been sucked back inside.

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The characters for the most part are super stereotypes, which I didn’t exactly not expect from the film, but was made plain as day obvious. Jack is the new student, Champ the annoying socially awkward dweeb and Hannah the interesting girl-next-door. Now, where things are more interesting is Jack Black himself… R.L. Stine. He’s a more fleshed out character. He has a history that has made him distrust others, shy away from them and become passionate about his books. He even goes through some character development and opens up to Zack about his past and about Hannah. The major issue I have with the character development is that the script calls it out before it happens citing it as a requirement for the book R.L. Stine writes in the movie. Though, I suppose this does add to the humor elements of the movie. The fact that the other characters ARE such stereotypes also lends itself to humor. However, all surrounding characters are pretty much just added in to keep the jokes rolling.

The Scares?: Besides listening to others scream in this movie, honestly, there were no points where most people would be scared. At least, adults. This movie might be scary for children who have read Goosebumps to see the creatures from their nightmares leaping off the page? But other than that, no real scares. All of the creatures are not really a mystery either, eliminating surprise completely.

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I actually was giggling at the Lawn Gnomes tying up R.L. Stine and trying to roast him in the oven. This is in stark contrast to many Goosebumps tv specials that still creep me out till this day… like, The Mask. I doubt kids will be getting many nightmares from this movie.

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Humor: If there is one thing that this movie is really good at, it’s the humor. Zack is a sarcastic teen with a quick mouth on him, which leads to some funny dialogue throughout the movie but typically the humor is less in the actual words and more in the situations. The movie pokes fun at itself and seems to realize the audience that knows the source material. One of my favorite moments was when R.L. Stine’s identity is first revealed and Champ attempts to take a selfie with him for his instagram only for Stine to toss his phone out the window. The way the events go down just tickled me a lot. Of course, Jack Black is a good actor to play in a comedy movie like this. His reactions to many situations are what actually caused me to laugh versus some of the movies attempts to get me to laugh via puns, etc. The humor though is all kid-friendly and sometimes a bit over the top, which led to me not appreciated it as much, such as the rookie police officer trying to taser people immediately upon sight, etc. Overall, the comedy was hit and miss with me.

The Score: There was definitely background music or a score to add atmosphere to the movie. However, I did not pay attention at all to it which means it did not stand out enough to be memorable to me.

Overall: I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, this movie is a ride of nostalgia if you ever read or were a fan of R.L. Stine’s iconic series, Goosebumps. The movie does a good job in paying tribute to a lot of source material all at once as well. On the other, the film at its core, to me, doesn’t seem to have much substance outside of your childhood memories of horror. Well, that and a lot of witty humor and banter make this movie more of a comedy than a horror for sure. Honestly, it’s more like watching a live action Scooby-Doo movie. I’ve seen movies like ZombieLand that managed to frighten me and be humorous at the same time as well, so I’m sure there coudl have been a happier medium somewhere along the line. Basically, to me Goosebumps was decent but not much to write home about.

Have you seen Goosebumps? If so, what did YOU think? Leave a comment below and also  let me know if there are any specific horror movies you’d like to see me review next.