Blu-ray Review: Goosebumps

“Goosebumps” was a series of children’s horror novellas written by R.L. Stine. Between 1992 and 1997 he published 62 books. As 14 year old in 1992 I was already reading Stephen King and I was too old for “Goosebumps”, thus I’ve never read a single book. However, as a fan of horror and Jack Black, I was curious to see how they were going to cram all those stories into one film.

The story Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewksi came up with is actually very clever and manages to play homage to the entire series instead of try to tell the specific story of one or more of the original books. Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom, Gale (Amy Ryan) have just moved to a move town following the death of Zach’s dad. He quickly meets the nerdy kid at school, Champ (Ryan Lee) and the cute girl next door, Hannah (Odeya Rush). The only problem is that Hannah’s dad (Jack Black) doesn’t want her seeing anybody, especially the boy next door.

When Zach thinks that Hannah is in trouble he and Champ break into the house while her dad is away to rescue her. What they unleash nothing they can prepare themselves for. It turns out her dad IS novelist, R.L. Stine and all the creatures he wrote about came to life. The only way to keep them contained is within their locked manuscripts. The boys learn all this when they accidentally unleash The Abominable Snowman.

Things get worse for the group when another book containing Slappy (voiced by Jack Black) gets knocked open on accident. Slappy happens to be mischievously evil ventriloquist puppet who really hates it when people call him a dummy. Sick of being stuck in a book on a shelf, Slappy steals all the manuscripts and starts opening them all unleashing all of Stine’s creations upon the town, then burning the books so they can’t be put back.

Having not read a single “Goosebumps” book, I had no nostalgia going into this, so I didn’t get super excited when random monsters would appear on screen, but I imagine that a long time fan would get a huge kick out of playing “Where’s Waldo” with all the creatures running around. That said, I still really enjoyed the movie. Making a good horror movie for kids isn’t easy. It has to be scary enough for the younger ones so it provides a good scare, yet it can’t be too scary or parents won’t let their kids watch it. On top of that, it can’t be too silly, or the parent’s won’t find anything to enjoy. I think Goosebumps walks that line very well. It’s a fun, fast paced film that adults can easily enjoy, and I think it probably has just enough scares in it to be a perfect gateway scary movie for kids. ( I can’t be 100% about that last part, as I didn’t watch the film with a kid, but I think that experience would be a blast.)

It’s easy to see that Jack Black is having a blast in this film, playing Stine. He’s a curmudgeonly grouch who wants nothing to do with Zach and Champ, but he can’t help but begin to like them as they go through this adventure together. Plus you’ve got some great minor characters such as Zach’s aunt Lorraine (Jillian Bell) and Coach Carr (Ken Marino).

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Goosebumps, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I watched. This was a fun film that I would happily recommend to anyone with kids who enjoy a good scare.

The film is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and 5.1 DTS-HD MA Dolby Digital audio. The film looks and sounds great.

Extras include: Cast Blooper Reel (3 min.), Alternate Opening (3 min.), Deleted Scenes (12 min.), All About Slappy (4 min.), Beginner’s Guide to Surviving A Goosebumps Creature (5 min.), Strange Things are Happening… On-Set (3 min.), Creaturefied (9 min.), and Cast Screening Test Gallery (7min.).

Goosebumps is a very fun movie that I think both kids and adults alike will enjoy. It succeeds in making a fun horror movie for children, which I think is actually very difficult. The cast is great and it’s easy to see that everyone had a lot of fun making this.

Columbia Pictures presents Goosebumps. Written by Darren Lemke. Story by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Based on the novellas by R.L. Stine. Directed by Rob Letterman. Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush and Ryan Lee. Running time: 103 min. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: January 12, 2016.

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