Review: Goosebumps (2015)


This big-screen spin turns R. L. Stine’s brand of popular kids’ horror stories into an entertaining comedy with several meta flashes. Instead of adapting one story, director Rob Letterman opts to cram as many of Stine’s creations in as possible, the narrative revolving around Stine (Jack Black) himself as new neighbour Zach (Dylan Minnette) and dim-witted sidekick Champ (Ryan Lee) break into his house and inadvertently unleash every monster he’s ever created. The build up is deliberately measured, establishing the wacky, yet sincere tone with well defined characters and mystery, before the action kicks in as the trio – with the help of Stine’s daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) – attempt to put a stop to the mayhem – and mayhem there is. The speedy momentum refuses to let up from this point onwards, laughs and mild scares around every turn. Many of the creations prove to be real hindrances, no more so than crafty ventriloquist doll Slappy, who emerges as the main villain. Black delivers his strongest performance in a while, depicting Stine as a curmudgeon recluse at odds with his success, and Minnette is a find. The biggest treat of all, however, is the tongue-in-cheek humour that sharpens the narrative and covers up much of the shaky CGI. In no way whatsoever does Goosebumps take itself seriously, and that’s what makes it such an unexpected delight with long shelf life.

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