When I was a kid, there was a girl in my class who for every ‘Show and Tell’, book report, library recommendation, and pretty much any other assignment you can imagine - all she would do was talk about Goosebumps. It annoyed me to such a degree that I never touch a single copy, just to spite her. Of course, she never realised this so the only person who lost in this scenario was me. My point is this: as a result, my very first introduction to the Goosebumps stories is now - as a woman in her thirties - with the release of the literary franchise’s first feature film.
To date (spinoff series aside), there are 62 Goosebumps titles - too many for any money-hungry film studio to set their sights on, so for its first feature film it’s brought all your childhood ghouls and goblins together for a single movie.
'GOOSEBUMPS' TRAILER 2
Being the new kid in town, Zach (Dylan Minnette) befriends exactly two people: the school geek Champ (Ryan Lee) and his neighbour Hannah (Odeya Rush), despite the objections of her less-than-friendly and reclusive father (Jack Black). After breaking into Hannah’s house one night while her father is out (don’t ask, it’s a long story), the boys discover the original Goosebumps manuscripts. It also turns out that when these particular manuscripts are opened, the monsters that lay within its pages come to life. In a night they’ll never forget, the trio plus Hannah’s father R.L. Stine - yes the R.L. Stine - must hunt down put all the monsters back in their books before all hell breaks loose.
This particular story is a clever way to appease all Goosebumps fans no matter your favourite book.
While this particular story is a clever way to appease all Goosebumps fans no matter your favourite book, it loses what makes Goosebumps great: the monsters. Yes, there are more of them here than you can poke a stick at, but they’re not the feature, the kids are. So while the monsters take a back seat to our hero characters and their wild adventure, even that plays second fiddle to a cliché teen romance. What!? Romance in Goosebumps!? Well I never! Alas, it’s true.
‘Goosebumps’ is very family-friendly. More adventure, less horror, it’s definitely suitable for the kids, but unfortunately probably too light on for the adolescents. Even the child actors seem too old for this. For the Jack Black fans out there, his signature humour and comedic affluence are buried by a strange affected voice he puts on to play Stine; it must have taken up all his concentration, and it becomes a little grating at times.
No doubt this ‘Goosebumps’ is only the first in what will surely be many to come. I’m sure the new generation will love it.