Film review #586
Director: Rob Letterman
SYNOPSIS: Zach Cooper moves with his Mother to the town of Madison, Delaware, where he learns he has a strange new neighbour. Things take a twist when Zach learns that his new neighbour is none other than R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series of books, and the monsters from his books have accidentally been brought to life…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Goosebumps is a 2015 film based on the series of horror books by R.L. Stine. The film starts up in a very typical way, introducing teenager Zach Cooper and his Mother moving to a new town and having to get used to a new school and all of that: a situation you’ve seen in films plenty of times. Fortunately, the film doesn’t linger too long on it, and it’s somewhat necessary to provide the grounds for the film’s twist. Zach learns that his odd neighbour is none other than R.L. Stine, the author of the Goosebumps series, and the creations in his horror stories are very much real; as he finds out when the monsters are released from their books to terrorise the town. The meta-twist of the film, making R.L. Stine (played by Jack Black) a character and referencing the actual books is implemented well, and provides a good way of incorporating the different characters from the books. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll appreciate the different monsters that appear, but even if you’re not familiar with them, it doesn’t impact the experience in any way.
What the film does well is – when it kicks off with the monsters being unleashed – that it keeps up an unrelenting pace and energy as it moves along without any real lulls. The different parts of the film aren’t really anything unique, but it never slows down enough to make it boring. Part of this is due to Jack Black’s portrayal of R.L. Stine, as he brings his usual energy to the role and to basically steal every scene he is in. If you’re not a fan of Jack Black, maybe you’ll have an issue with the film, but otherwise you can certainly enjoy the ride. The rest of the cast is fairly uninteresting and don’t really develop beyond their typical roles, but again it’s not that much of an issue since they aren’t really the ones driving the plot.
Overall, Goosebumps overcomes a predictable setup with a self-referential twist that works well, with a constant energy and entertainment that doesn’t give you a chance to get bored. Like the series itself, it is horror for kids, so there’s no real scares or frights to be had, but again, it focuses more on the action and self-referential humour that make the film work in it’s own right. Not perfect, but entertaining enough, particularly if you’re a fan of the franchise.