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Wayback Wednesday: Goosebumps (2015)

I don’t want to meet the person who dislikes Jack Black.

I am shocked to admit that I have never read a “Goosebumps” book. SHOCKED I tell you! Even as a child I was all about anything spooky and creepy, especially books for young readers. Did I read every issue of “The Bailey School Kids” that my library had? Absolutely I did. But for some reason I never got around to picking up one of R.L. Stine’s iconic books. Maybe I was just too scared to check one out of my elementary school library. As an adult now though I would love to watch episode of the Goosebumps (1995 – 1998) anthology show. Who knows? I might even pick up a couple of the books because although I remember them being meant for a younger audience, I also remember that they were genuinely scary. Stine is more or less Stephen King for adolescents so I’m all in. Goosebumps (2015), the first big-screen adaptation of Stine’s work, might not have been as terrifying as I had hoped but it was still a decently entertaining Halloween movie that inspired me to watch even more creature features soon. Speaking of creature features, if you haven’t seen Van Helsing (2004), it’s finally on Netflix so do yourself a favour and WATCH IT. 

Credit: / Sony Pictures Releasing

Inspired by Stine’s best-selling book series of the same name, Goosebumps tells the story of Zach, a teenage boy who moves from New York City to the town of Madison, Delaware with his mother Gale. After befriending his new neighbour Hannah, Zach learns that she is the daughter of young adult horror author, R.L. Stine. Together Zach and Hannah team up to save the day after accidentally releasing a horde of Stine’s most nightmarish monsters on the town. 

When I was thinking about the movies I wanted to review this Halloween season, admittedly Goosebumps was nowhere on my radar. While I was on board with the premise, I got it into my head that the movie looked too childish and like something out of a toy commercial to warrant my attention. I had worries that it wouldn’t be a good reflection of its scary source material. Then again, I support any type of media that helps introduce young audiences to the world of creepy creatures and menacing monsters. So, I chose to review it and told myself that as long as the special effects were bearable and there was an essence of fun, it would be worth it. And you know what? It totally was.

Was Goosebumps as frightening as the reputation of the books? No, not at all. I was pretty bummed when 30 minutes into this hour and 43 minute movie that nothing “Goosebumps-y” had happened yet. But you know what? The more Goosebumps progressed the more I found myself having fun with this movie! A lot of modern movies intended for younger audiences are unbearably dumb or trying too hard to be hip, but this is really cute and evocative of Halloween. The humour is silly and actually made me smile and hey, the effects are not nearly as bad as I thought they were going to be! Imagine my surprise when this movie turned out to be slightly better than my expectations. I could see Goosebumps being a Halloween staple for a generation of kids. If I were a kid today I would totally watch this on YTV every October. 

As the opening credits for Goosebumps began, my first thought was, “dang, I really wish someone like Tim Burton had directed this movie.” Condseiring the source material it seems like a no-brainer, right? WELL. It turns out that Burton was originally attached to direct a movie adaptation in 1998 but the studio couldn’t decide on which book to adapt. I would have LOVED to see someone like Burton direct Goosebumps because while there is a sense of creepiness to director Rob Letterman’s vision, I just cant help but imagine how wonderfully macabre this movie could be in the hands of an edgier director. I wanted so much more terror and fear to be squeezed out of this project. Speaking of directors, Goosebumps feels like a movie that Joe Dante would have directed. You know, like his other movies Gremlins (1984) and Small Soldiers (1998). Oh my God! I was FLOORED when I found out that the story for the Goosebumps movie was written by both Stine and the screenwriting team of Scott Alexander and Larry Kraszewski. I swear, these two keep appearing as the screenwriters for the most random movies. Tonally different as the movies they write are, clearly Alexander and Kraszewski know how to craft a good story because Goosebumps packs a lot of interesting storylines, cool visuals and fun humour into a quality family movie that everyone can enjoy. 

The execution of the Goosebumps movie is actually brilliant. It’s such a great idea for such a beloved and encompassing book series. I’m surprised it took studios this long to think of a way to smash all these iconic stories into one movie. What Goosebumps most reminds me of is Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004). I mean, that right there should be more than enough of an incentive to give Goosebumps a chance. It possesses the same charm and appeal that makes Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed so rewatchable. Also, if you haven’t seen the masterpiece that is Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed in the last 12 months, oh my God, what’s wrong with you? What have you been doing with your life? 

Goosebumps was much better and more entertaining than I thought. Truly, I was never bored. It might have taken a while for the action to get started but once it did, it’s an adventure that’s a lot of fun to go on. Hello, it’s a movie about a gang of gruesome monsters terrorizing a sleepy town. What more do you need out of a Halloween movie? Well, maybe some more blood. And death. And rotting corpses. And haunted houses. And serial killers…You know what, don’t let me be in charge of your child’s Halloween party. 

Have you seen Goosebumps?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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