Goosebumps (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing, PG)

Goosebumps 75Goosebumps is for everyone! You don’t need to have read the books to enjoy it.





goosebumps 500

The first time I saw the trailer for Goosebumps, I was a little…surprised. When I was in elementary school, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books were hot commodities in the library. My classmates couldn’t get enough of the horror series. That, however, was 15 years ago.  Without a doubt, this highly successful series deserved a movie—more than 300 million Goosebumps books have sold—but ‘why now and for whom exactly?’ I wondered. There’s even an article called “8 ‘Goosebumps’ Books That Are Now Irrelevant Thanks To Technology” floating around the internet that dates the series. Basically, I thought this movie might just be a little too late. I was thrilled, however, to be proven wrong.

Directed by Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens), Goosebumps is equal parts action, adventure, and comedy. As the film opens, we are introduced to Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother who have moved to a new town for a much-needed fresh start. Although Zach is none too thrilled about his new hometown, the girl next door catches his attention immediately. Hannah (Odeya Rush, The Giver) is equally intrigued, but her eccentric father, played by the spectacular Jack Black, warns Zach to keep his distance. Of course, Zach doesn’t listen. As crazy as he seems, Hannah’s father—who Zach eventually learns is R.L. Stine—has good reason to be cautious. A long time ago, he discovered his writing literally had the power to rise from the page. He locked his manuscripts to prevent a monster uprising; not that Zach realizes that. By unlocking one book, thus freeing The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Zach sets the rest of the fast-paced film into motion.

In a lot of ways, Goosebumps reminds me of Jumanji. In Jumanji, creatures emerge from the board game and take the community by storm. The same is true in Goosebumps. The creatures of Stine’s imagination literally leap out of their respective manuscripts and mass destruction ensues. There’s thrill in the anticipation of waiting to see what Stine creation the group will encounter next—the scariest of all being Slappy the ventriloquist dummy. There are frightening elements to all of Stine’s characters but nothing audience members of any age will find nightmare-inducing. As someone who absolutely dreads the thought of scary movies, I appreciated Goosebumps’ ability to get me into the spirit of the spooktacular holiday season without feeling the need to make me jump, cringe, or cover my eyes. (I should clarify that this is not actually a Halloween movie, but the content is certainly fitting for an October release).

For me, two characteristics make this movie great enough to recommend to others and to watch again. First, it has absolutely memorable characters. Jack Black is perfect in this role, and Rush was a great choice for Hannah. She exudes an almost effortless air of mystery and intrigue that makes her fun to watch. The other standout in this film was Ryan Lee as Champ. Some of the film’s best comedic moments are thanks to Lee’s adorkable character. Secondly, Goosebumps is for everyone! You don’t need to have read the books to enjoy it. I personally never got around to reading the series when I was younger, and can report there wasn’t a single instance in which I felt a disconnect because of that.  Former and current readers will enjoy the nostalgia of recognizing the various book titles and monsters. As I said, this film is good family fun. It’s just the right amount of spooky—not scary enough to make you scream, but creepy enough to give you goosebumps. | Megan Washausen

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