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8/15/16

GOOSEBUMPS - REVIEW


Based on R.L. Stine's popular kid-friendly horror books (and the TV series), Goosebumps was a theatrical feature adaptation released in 2015 starring Jack Black. It did well at the box-office despite a surprisingly healthy budget.

I say "surprisingly" because you wouldn't really think that a studio would go all-in for a Goosebumps movie but this is a project that was in development for a long time so I would suspect that a good portion of the dough went into various scripts, casts and crews. In fact, as expensive as it may be, this movie still feels like a TV movie update on the old series. Sure the monsters are huge, detailed CGI creations but they are nowhere near as polished and impressive as you'd expect from a modern day blockbuster. This is a colourful, action-packed adaptation that playfully mixes together several memorable characters from the books including evil garden gnomes, creepy ventriloquist dummies, blobs and abominable snowmen as they are all unleashed onto an unsuspecting town.

Jack Black plays R.L. Stine himself as the writer moves into a new small town with his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) who soon befriends their neighbour Zach (Dylan Minnette) before Stine's novels pop open releasing all the villainous ghouls they held in place. The tone of the film aims for something along the lines of Jumanji or Gremlins: light-hearted with thrills. And, for the most part, that works although by trying to fit in so many monsters, the whole thing comes off as more rushed than anything else so no real tension is built even after the sluggish, exposition-heavy first 20 minutes. The young leads are frankly bland so it's up to Jillian Bell and Jack Black to bring the few laughs that there are. The film itself is a bit of a mess and, while parts of it capture the wackiness and creativity of the source material, ultimately it all goes by so fast you'll probably forget all about it the second it's over.

It's a testament to Stine's series of books that this film did so well upon its release because it's really nothing to go wild about. For all its flashy CGI effects and its fast pace, it's neither funny, inventive or scary enough to be at all memorable. I'd seek out the Danny Elfman score as it is reliably energetic, but I wouldn't recommend paying to see this one.

Kids might enjoy a Netflix viewing.

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