Goosebumps (2015)

I remember reading Goosebumps when I was little. It was during a time before I started to read Stephen King books and just about the time I was starting to develop my own tastes. I found out two things by reading Goosebumps, Fear Street and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. First, the horror genre shakes me to my core. My vivid imagination makes all of the horrible ideas easily come to life. Second, I really like the creepy stuff. I love the creepy imagery and, although my heart fills with dread, I really enjoy it. Goosebumps was a series that was good for the horror newbie. Each book follows a different short horror story and the whole series covers a lot of different genres and subgenres of horror. Of course, the ones that frightened me the most were the ones that involved body horror like The Haunted Mask. I have stated repeatedly that the stuff that scares me the most is the loss of self either physically or mentally. The books were a great pathway into both real horror and some of the goofy horror that I particularly enjoy.

In the nineties, there was a rash of horror anthology shows marketed to kids. We got great shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark and, of course, live-action adaptations of the Goosebumps book series. I had already started watching The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Night Gallery but these shows appealed to me as a younger viewer. The protagonists were all people closer to my age and it was easier to empathize with a teen than it was Captian Kirk frightened in a plane. Goosebumps, the show, was actually well-acted and definitely well-written. The show was actually pretty dark, just like the books. Sure, as I got older, it was not as scary as the books I had read at a younger age but the stories scratched that spooky itch that I was starting to get. This was an age where I fully believed in the supernatural and even the silliest horror story was pretty scary in my mind. Goosebumps is very much part of my nostalgia and it is definitely part of my early horror roots. So let’s revisit those days with the movie that came out last year.

When I heard there was going to be a Goosebumps movie, my response was that there should have been a movie adaptation ages ago. The book series was actually supposed to be adapted by Tim Burton at one point and George Romero before that. I would kind of like to see the alternate universes that created those films but alas, that technology is not available yet. Instead, we finally get a movie 23 years after the first book was published but even the author, RL Stine, spoke about the difficulty of creating a definitive movie of an anthology series. They could have gone the route of Twilight Zone: The Movie and done a few stories but instead, they created a story that would allow various books’ villains to crossover. This seems to be the best solution if you are going to create a movie. The movie is pretty well-written as it manages to merge a lot of RL Stine’s works into one movie but it is not really a horror movie. That’s ok because making this a horror movie would have been difficult. Instead, they made it into an adventure/fantasy film very much like Jumanji. The dialogue is pretty tight and there is a lot of offbeat comedy mixed in with the thrills and chills the main characters go through.

The big star of the movie is, of course, Jack Black who plays author RL Stine in a story where all of his monstrous characters are released from the books. I have been a fan of Jack Black for a long time, ever since I first saw the music video for Tenacious D’s Tribute. Jack Black has great comic timing and will go at things full force even in the crappiest of movies like Neverending Story 3. In this movie, Jack Black does a pretty funny impression of Orson Welles and he actually got a lot of laughs out of me. He also played the main villain and it definitely felt like he had a lot of fun doing so. The other actors I recognized were Ken Marino and Amy Ryan who didn’t have much impact on the story. The story follows three teenagers and the actors that played them were actually really good. I feel like child acting is getting better as the years go by and this movie definitely shows it. I had never heard of Dylan Minette but he was a solid protagonist with some good comic timing. Then there was Odette Rush who was a strong female protagonist with a really interesting secret. Finally, we got Ryan Lee as the comic relief and I expected him to be annoying but the was actually pretty enjoyable.

Overall, the movie was actually a lot more fun than I had been lead to believe. The movie was a great romp through nostalgia and spookiness that actually provided a lot of laughs. Am I angry that a horror anthology series was turned into an adventure/fantasy/comedy movie? No, I’m not because it ended up being a good movie. I can always tell how much I like a movie by how invested I am in it and how many times I check the time. By the end, I cared about what was going to happen and I had barely checked the time at all. Check this movie out if you are looking for a little family-friendly Halloween-y fun.

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2 Responses to “Goosebumps (2015)”

  1. Halloween 2016 Wrap-Up | Wolf of Words Says:

    […] Goosebumps (2015) 3/5 Stars – Rated PG […]

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  2. Movies Explained Badly | Wolf of Words Says:

    […] An author hates his past works. Answer […]

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