As an avid reader of the Goosebumps books and dedicated watcher of the TV series, when the news broke that a Goosebumps film was in the works, I was fearful that it could not live up to the extremely accessible, well-written books which developed my love of horror.
My doubts grew after the trailer’s release, as, realising that the film would be an attempt to incorporate most of the books into one film, I was dubious. Moreover, I wasn’t overly enamoured that R.L Stine was to be characterised in the film by Jack Black. As a fairly ‘hit-and-miss’ actor, I was doubtful that Black could fill the enormous boots he was attempting to.
Given all this, I was actually completely surprised by just how good the film was. Jack Black is perfectly cast as an eccentric, introverted horror writer with a dark secret. He combines scary and quirky to create a lovable loner that the viewer instantly connects with. The protagonist, Zach (Dylan Minnette), plays the ‘fish out of water’ new kid very well, falling for his neighbor, Hannah (Odeye Rush), upon first glance. Instantly, he is warned away by her father, Black doing his best ‘Robert De Niro from Meet The Parents’ impersonation and the stage is set for a mushy rom-com.
"the film has something for everyone: unpredictable twists, romance, fear, comedy and family fun"
However, this is Goosebumps (not Heartbeats) and through various misunderstandings and bad decisions, The Abominable Snowman is unleashed on the town of Madison and the action ensues. The ventriloquist dummy, ‘Slappy’, nearly steals the show away from Black, (lucky for him, Black also voices Slappy!) as the orchestrator of the mayhem. Throughout, the film plays homage to the original books, igniting nostalgia in those raised on the series. For newcomers, hopefully it will inspire them to read the extremely well-crafted horror books.
Ultimately, the film has something for everyone: unpredictable twists, romance, fear, comedy and family fun. In years to come, this film will undoubtedly be up there with Hocus Pocus as a family-friendly Halloween favourite.
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