<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Rob Letterman. Starring Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Scott Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell
Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes
The only goose bumps I got watching this movie was from the freezing cold air-conditioning in the preview theatre.
Goosebumps is based on a best-selling series of children’s books by R.L. Stine. In the movie, the books by author RL Stine played by Jack Black are stacked up on shelves but they’re locked like a girl’s diary. Stine wrote the mysterious books –filled with monsters, insects, murderous regular objects like garden gnomes and ventriloquist dummies – because he was never good with people and was always lonely. Hmm… one would imagine that someone like that would write books with nicer things in them. Oh well.
Stine and his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) have new neighbours in their small town: Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) and his mom (Amy Ryan) who are getting over the loss of Zach’s father. And of course, predictably, Hannah entices Zach into a forest where an abandoned amusement park sits.
Soon enough, Zach and his new geeky best buddy Champ (Ryan Scott Lee) break into Stine’s house since they think the boorish man has kept Hannah captive for seeing Zach against his orders. And they open book with a key that’s on the table near the books and a monster comes out…
Let me pause here to ask a few questions: If the books were so menacing and Stine knew about this then why weren’t the books kept in a vault or attic instead of in plain view in the study? And if opening them would cause such grave destruction then why put the key to the books right next to them? And who on earth would make an amusement park in the middle of a forest?
Slappy, the wicked ventriloquist dummy, is one of the many standard ‘scary’ things that get out of the books and he continues to unleash several more since he hated being cooped up in the pages of Stine’s work and wants revenge. What follow is a chase and the inevitable task of getting all the monsters back in the books to save the town.
Goosebumps is extremely predictable and not very scary. There are plenty of plot holes and amateurish directing severely hurts the film. There’s a scene in the school where the students are at a party, which is attacked by a giant praying mantis and while you see the kids screaming and cowering you also see several of them simply laughing that they’re in a such a silly film.
Jack Black has a weird accent and looks like he’s sleepwalking through it all. Dylan Minnette looks like a young Chris Helmsworth and does a fair job. It’s a film for little kids perhaps since even the second instalment of Hotel Transylvania has more adult dialogue and humour than Goosebumps.