“Goosebumps bears incredibly high energy levels”
R.L. Stine’s beloved Goosebumps series of books were pivotal books in the lives of millennials; I remember at least a couple kids in every one of my elementary school classes reading Stine’s eclectic, twisty mysteries (I, myself, started on Friday the 13th and slasher films much younger than I probably should have, so Goosebumps always seemed like childish-fare to me). Nonetheless, a film adaptation – which surprisingly took this long to come about – caters to the genre of “kiddie horror” or “tween horror,” a largely neglected, and frankly financially uncertain genre of film that always seems to have its mind on creativity and adventure than anything else.
Goosebumps is very reminiscent of nineties TV movies one would find on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel; it evokes the kind of cheery sentiment of network premieres that were the talk of the lunch table in elementary school. Its ability to rekindle the kind of charm of the series whilst creating something that’s pleasantly manic and a bit creepy without being too cheeky or immature shows that this kind of filmmaking hasn’t gone by the wayside just yet.
The story revolves around Zack Cooper (Dylan Minnette), a teenager who moves from New York City to a sleepy town in Delaware with his mother following his father’s untimely death. He quickly meets his neighbor, a bitter and elusive grouch (Jack Black) with a beautiful teenager daughter named Hannah (Odeya Rush). One day, while convinced that her father has abused her after hearing screaming and yelling from the home, Zack calls the police to the home, which leaves everyone but Zack to believe it was a giant misunderstanding.
As a result, Zack sneaks in the house one day to see if Hannah is all right when her father isn’t there. When Zack knocks a book off a shelf and it unleashes the abominable snowman, he realizes Hannah’s father is R.L. Stine, the acclaimed author of the Goosebumps book series. Suddenly, all of Stine’s monsters are released from his books, everyone from the invisible boy to Slappy the Dummy (both characters voiced by Black, as well), which results in mass chaos for the entire state of Delaware.
Jack Black plays a very rare and interesting role here, one that allows him to be pretty morose and angry, two traits he doesn’t really exercise quite often, if ever. The refreshing change for his overblown personality results in Goosebumps being another showcase for his versatility and incandescent energy levels that never seem to be crippled, regardless of whatever script or director he’s working with.
And with a backdrop of numerous different monsters, quirky teenagers, and some very fun sequences, particularly when the group tries to evade the werewolf in the supermarket, the results are usually very favorable. Goosebumps bears incredibly high energy levels and a nonstop sense of manic fun, which keeps it a fluid and fun project, often carefree and pleasantly not attempting to instill any kind of self-aware, meta humor to what should be a simple endeavor for families.