Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
When adapting a franchise as impacting as the Goosebumps series, there is a lot of room for things to go wrong, such as over-crowded twists and too many characters. Thankfully in Rob Letterman’s Film adaptation, it manages to overcome these obstacles with great, focused storytelling.
The Movie starts off with Zach (Dylan Minnette) moving to the town of Madison with hesitation along with his mother Gale (Amy Ryan). Shortly after moving into their house, Zach steps outside to move boxes inside and meets his new neighbour Hannah (Odeya Rush). The two strike a connection until her father, R.L Stine (Jack Black) has something to say about it. After this strange encounter with Hannah and her father, Zach starts to grow suspicious of the relationship between Hannah and He decides to break into her house with his friend Champ (Ryan Lee) to ensure Hannah is okay. Upon entering their library, Champ finds a slew of books on the perfectly-arranged shelf and realizes they are Goosebumps stories. Upon this discovery, he realizes the books are locked and decides to unlock them, releasing the Abominable Snowman. This is where the chaos starts to unfold as Slappy the Dummy also gets released, creating havoc. The problem with Slappy is that he is resentful R.L Stine locked him up in a book, and then releases all of his creations.
The performances in Goosebumps are the only thing about the Film slightly underwhelming, of course with the exception of Jack Black. Black delivers a fantastic performance, bringing the master of childhood terror to life as well as his comedic charm to make Goosebumps the delight that it is. Ryan Lee is given the task of being grating troublemaker, which isn’t always likable, but delivers admirably. Dylan Minnette plays the young jock on a journey of self-discovery, falling for a girl that is truly unattainable, but the Zach we imagined would have had a greater presence.
Goosebumps is an incredibly-fun journey and the source material has forever affected a generation of kids. The adaption focuses on some of the earlier books, while crafting some genuine scares for younger audiences. Also, skillful use of special effects enhance the ghouls and monsters that come to life from the addictive, spooky stories of R. L Stine. Goosebumps will leave you with exactly that by the time you finish it.
Sony Pictures Canada releases GOOSEBUMPS in theatres on Friday, October 16, 2015.