Beginning in 1992, the Goosebumps novel series written by R.L. Stine have become enduring favourites. A ghoulish barrage of children’s horror fiction the books have transcended the page to embrace most media, from TV to PC games. It now leaps onto the silver screen with stylish aplomb. Perhaps reflecting the cult of personality, Stine becomes a character in his own work. Far from being self-indulgent, ‘Goosebumps’ effectively morphs his persona into a twisty-tale as beguiling as his written adventures.
When teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette) moves from the big city to a small town, he fears a boring existence. This is made easier when meeting Hannah (Odeya Rush) who lives next door to her strange father, writer of the Goosebumps series R.L. Stine (Jack Black). Wanting to keep newcomers away from his house, Stine’s efforts meet little success. When a monstrous horde escape from the pages of his books and begin terrorising the town, Zach and company have to save its citizens from the imaginative wickedness come to life.
Thanks to Rob Letterman’s snappy direction, ‘Goosebumps’ is a consistently fun ride. Carefully avoiding talking down to his audience, Letterman captures the frightful essence of the books. More child-like than childish, the engaging tone ensures ‘Goosebumps’ should appeal to all ages. Dark, scary, fun and exciting, it has everything a movie aimed at pre-teens should have. Moments featuring Stine’s facing his demons and accepting the past provide some depth amidst the endless mayhem.
Whilst occasionally over-stuffed with a litany of ghastly beasties, ‘Goosebumps’ revels in the book’s imaginative flair. The CGI boffins have a field day as they craft a dizzying array of spirits and ghouls. None of this over-whelms the performances which are spot-on. Usually known for hamming it up, Black wisely downplays his role and gives one of his best performances. His co-stars provide solid support managing to create genuine characters.
‘Goosebumps’ sets out to be an entertaining thrill-ride and succeeds. Fans should receive a cool nostalgic blast whilst newcomers should appreciate its craftsmanship. The series has always highlighted the power of imagination which its film version amply provides.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 8
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.
Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.