Rob Letterman’s ‘Goosebumps’ (2015) – Movie Review

How many Goosebumps books are in existence? One hundred? Two hundred? The Goosebumps series was incredibly popular when I was in elementary school. It was common logic that you either had to collect Pokemon cards, have a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers lunchbox, or checkout Goosebumps books from the library to be considered a cool kid. You didn’t want to be the nerd reading Where The Red Fern Grows or Hatchet – both of which I read several times, mind you. The Goosebumps series played a big part in an entire generation of kids being introduced to the horror genre. Is it possible that the film could have that same effect? Absolutely.

Goosebumps is a fantasy horror comedy based on the book series of the same name by R.L. Stine (who cameos in the film, unsurprisingly). The film was directed by Rob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs Aliens) from a script by Darren Lemke. It should also be noted that legendary composer Danny Elfman scored the film. Goosebumps stars Dylan Minnette (Let Me In, Don’t Breathe), Odeya Rush (The Giver), Ryan Lee (Super 8), and Jack Black as horror author R.L. Stine. The film follows Zach Cooper (Minnette) as he and his mother (Amy Ryan, Birdman) move to a new town. Zach soon takes notice of his new neighbor, Hannah (Rush), and her overbearing father, Mr. Shivers (Black) – who is later revealed to be the wildly popular horror author, R.L. Stine. At school, Zach quickly befriends Champ (Lee), a socially awkward student with a ton of fake confidence.

One night, the two of them break into Hannah’s house – fearing that she is in danger – and they find a bookshelf full of locked Goosebumps manuscripts. Zach unlocks one of the books, releasing the creature within into the real world. Not long after, Slappy (voiced by Jack Black) – the antagonist of the Goosebumps novella Night of the Living Dummy – escapes his book and releases the rest of the Goosebumps creatures from their books as well. The trio of friends, along with Mr. Stine, must fight to not only survive, but to rid the town of all the monsters also.

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I’m a HUGE Jack Black fan. School of Rock is one of my favorite films ever made, and I know every word to every song in The Pick of Destiny. While I was initially skeptical about the Goosebumps movie (given the hit or miss state of book to film adaptations), I decided to give the film a chance for his sake. Man, am I glad that I didFirst of all, this didn’t have to be a Goosebumps film for me to enjoy it. I found myself laughing and having a good time long before any monster graced the screen. The chemistry between Minnette, Rush, and Lee makes for a fun viewing experience. In fact, the entire cast had wonderfully comedic chemistry with each other. My only gripe about the casting is that Ken Marino (Wet Hot American Summer, Bad Milo!) appears in a small role and isn’t given much to do. Marino is one of the funniest people on the planet, and I can’t help but feel like Goosebumps wastes his talent somewhat.

As a whole, however, Goosebumps is a surprisingly competent film that pays homage to the fun horror films of decades past. The film combines practical effects and CGI, and while the CGI isn’t always outstandingit doesn’t detract from the film at all. The film is funny, quickly paced, and it’s even emotionally resonant in places. The monsters are maybe just a bit scary for younger children, but overall, this is a perfect starting point for future horror fans – as well as a fun escape for established members of the horror community.

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Final Thoughts

Viewers beware, you’re in for a scare. Well, not really a scare – unless you’re a child – but you’re certainly in for a fun adaptation of a beloved book series! Put on your haunted mask and check Goosebumps out on Netflix now! Bring on that sequel!!!

About Curt Oglesbee

I'm just a guy that loves to write and talk about movies.

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