2016 / Director. Rob Letterman.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Lets get the comparisons out of the way. If you were to take JUMANJI, SMALL SOLDIERS and MONSTER SQUAD and shove them in a nutri-bullet, the puree would be GOOSEBUMPS. This new family-friendly fright-fest is a nostalgic celebration of the creature-feature b-movies that kids flocked to at matinee screenings in the days before XBOX and iPhones. It is a fun, fast-paced adventure that requires a childish disposition before it can by fully appreciated.
Rather than making a film out of any one of the hundreds of books from author RL Stine, the movie goes for that classic royal-rumble approach, with a fantastic assortment of some of Stine's most iconic creatures being unleashed upon the world all at once. When a teenager moves next door to the famous children's author RL Stine, he befriends Stine's daughter and soon discovers all of the Goosebumps manuscripts kept under lock and key. When he dares to open one of stories he releases a gigantic abominable snowman. Soon Stine's most famous creation, Slappy the Dummy, is also released and sets upon a diabolical plan to unlock every single book and set loose a menagerie of monsters.
And so begins a super-fun adventure that will frighten the hell out of kids, while taking them on a rollercoaster ride of a good time. In a true throwback to some of the wonderful scary kids flicks of the past (such as GREMLINS and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES) GOOSEBUMPS gives a lot of credit to its target audience and dishes up a platter of genuine scares, while padding the reactions with a childish sense of humour. Even as an adult, I was surprised (and thrilled) by how scary some of these creatures were. From a blood-thirsty werewolf to a giant limb-shredding insect... not to mention the uber creepy killer-clown and, of course, the evil sadistic ventriloquist puppet. This movie is the stuff of nightmares for kids and it makes no apologies.
The movie's biggest let down is the casting of Jack Black. It's not that his presence is unwelcome, but rather the fact that he carries some weird-ass accent throughout the entire film. I have no idea what type of accent it is, but it sure as heck does sound fake. Putting that aside, he does bring a youthful sense of frivolity to the story and never overshadows the teen characters.
The production value is solid wth some unique and original set-pieces that lend the story an added sense of fantasy. The GCI creature designs are brilliantly realised and the monsters blend in with the live action seamlessly. In fact every dollar of the film's budget is on screen and it's a much better looking movie than I was ever expecting it to be. If GOOSEBUMPS had of been made in the 80's you would expect to see Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante's name slapped on the poster. It's the type of film they used to make and it's the type of movie we need more of.
Kids will lap this one up, and I'm sure many adults will bulk at it. I would encourage all grown-ups to leave their pretensions at the door and approach this one as if they were kids. What would your twelve-year-old self think of GOOSEBUMPS? Mine loved it.