Goosebumps  is the live-action horror comedy directed by Rob Letterman and is based off the popular children’s book series of the same name from the 1990’s. The film is about a young man (Dylan Minnette) who moves to a small Delaware town and whose house also happens to be right next door to the popular writer of the “Goosebumps” novels- R.L. Stine (Jack Black). He then after series of unfortunate events, accidentally unleashes the monsters from those books onto the town and along with Stine and a couple of friends, has to race against the clock to stop them.
Captures the correct spirit. One of the best things about Goosebumps is that Letterman correctly captures that same spirit of fun/horror that was very prevalent in the original TV show and in the books. Kids like being scared- and the film definitely has plenty of those. It’s not outrageously frightening or anything of that sort. The film has a pretty great sense of meta-humor that adults will find pretty clever and that same humor also helps balance that fine line between comedy and horror. The end result is pretty effective, as it is a pretty dark family film, but it definitely helps to have some smart humor intertwined in the more horrific sequences that might frighten the younger crowd.
Terrifically whimsical score.Danny Elfman’s score is wonderful here. He’s the perfect fit for this type of film and the emotional undertones of the soundtrack really work in the quieter scenes. The rest of the pretty bombastic score gives the film a very quirky Halloween vibe to it and that really helps sell the tone of the film even further. One of the bigger disappointments of the film, unfortunately, is there is not a single appearance of the main iconic theme song from the Goosebumps show. It’s nowhere to be found and that’s a bit of a bummer.
At times chaotic. The pacing of the film is pretty break-neck. Once the second act of the film starts it never really stops. The scares keep coming and the jokes keep flying. Characters are jumping all over the map and twists and turns are hitting you right in the face (some work, others don’t). Sometimes the film feels a little too rushed, as you never really get a lot of time to see a good amount of the monsters besides maybe two or three main ones. Slappy the Dummy, in particular, is one of the shining points of the film and other than him barking orders at the other Goosebumps creatures, he doesn’t have a lot of screen time to really feel all that threatening; which is unfortunate because his character could have been unbelievably frightening and because the film never really slows down to explore his demented personality any further, we never get to witness this first hand.
Great for kids, great for adults.Goosebumps does something that not a lot of family films are doing these days (beyond being live-action), which is creating something that can simultaneously scare and make kids laugh at the same time. Goosebumps is a hard PG film with a lot of violence and a hell of a lot of monsters, but the film never overdoes either of those, and the film never loses that sense of the fun you get from the Goosebumps books and TV shows.
Beyond being a little frantically paced, Goosebumps is a lot of fun and correctly balances that sense of fright and humor that we loved from the TV show.