Goosebumps: Lacks Goosebumps


R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps is well known for being a well-loved children’s horror series. The film, Goosebumps, which opened October 16, made $25.3 million at the box office its opening weekend. This is a fairly good turnout, considering the many fans of the series. Yet, the anticipation for the film was not fully warranted.

The film starts out with a recently widowed mother, Gale (Amy Ryan), who moves to her new home with her son Zach (Dylan Minnette), who has the typical teenage attitude of hating the new place they move to.

Zach meets his next door neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush), whom he seems to have developed a crush on. Yet, Zach is rejected. Not by Hannah, but by her mysterious father Mr. Shivers (Jack Black) who forces Zach to leave. Soon Zach becomes friends with Champ, a nerd that everyone at school calls “Chump,” played by Ryan Lee, best known for his role in the 2011 film “Super 8.”

Champ and Zach decide to find out what the deal is with Mr. Shivers when they hear yelling next door one night. When the police don’t do anything about the situation, the two buddies decide it would be wise to take matters into their own hands. Chaos erupts once they commit breaking and entering.

Once inside Shivers’ creepy house, they find locked Goosebumps manuscripts and they open the book The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, which causes all monsters from R.L. Stine’s books to come alive. It then becomes apparent that Mr. Shivers is R.L. Stine. Therefore, their mission is to capture all of the monsters.

Director Rob Letterman has worked on projects before with Black, including 2010’s Gulliver’s Travels. That film received mediocre reviews as well, so perhaps it’s time for their partnership to end. Letterman attempted to create a great monster flick this time around, but failed by having random monsters pop out without having any real significance. To be sure, the movie is made for young children, but the surprises could have been a little scarier.

For example, the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena looked fake. The only “scare” factor in the character was that his face has a slight frown to it. In fact, he looked significantly kinder and less creepy than the Abominable Snowman in the holiday favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Letterman does try to create a small twist at the end, but it’s pretty obvious for anyone over the age of 10.

The Hilarious Jack Black of course brings in some humor, yet it did not fully work for the role of R.L. Stine. The humor took away from the character being a grim, haunted author. Minnette does try to take command in his lead role, but there’s not much he can do with a stereotypical teenager character who doesn’t capture too much attention.

If you are over the age of 8, the film is torture to watch. But, this is the perfect film if you have a younger sibling who is looking for a little scare or is looking to start reading the book series.