When the books are finally brought to life, the youths of millions are finally revived. This long-awaited adaptation of R.L. Stine’s horror stories for children is brought to the big screen under the eye of director Rob Letterman, following his series of family-friendly entertainment after Dreamworks’ animations Shark Tale and Monsters vs. Aliens.
Jack Black stars as Stine, finding himself, as well as his daughter (Odeya Rush) and new neighbour Zach (Dylan Minnette) running all over town after the books shelved carefully in Stine’s house find themselves unleashing their inner demons to run amok and reign terror upon the unsuspecting town and the school dance that is currently taking place.
Letterman’s boisterous adventure ignites in Darren Lemke’s screenplay where imagination runs wild; the most powerful tool and most appreciated factor when bringing these stories to life. Stine’s deliriously wacky and insatiable delight to bewilder and entertain with the most curious of creatures is more than enough material for both writer and director to work with, wrapped around the most old-fashioned story of them all: when boy meets girl.
Zach meets Hannah and it’s all teenage angst and quiet gazes from window to window and peering through garden gates. It’s not until they release their first of many creatures that things turn interesting, some of them featured from R.L. Stine’s base books that range from titles such as Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Attack of the Jack O’Lanterns, Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes and The Werewolf of Fever Swamp — and look out for other cameos, there are dozens.
Whilst the film fits in as many ghouls and goblins that go bump in the night, favourable ones, such as The Haunted Mask, are additions that would have been welcomed with extended screen time, but Revenge of the Living Dummy‘s Slappy renders enough time to villainous proportions. Though one of the most popular accolades in Stine’s repertoire of frightening fables, he’s voiced by Black as well as Black sparring with the porcelain demon. It, at times, is a little too much Jack Black, though favourably his time is interspersed with the animated likability of the young leads, a Ghostbusting-trio of exuberant youths who exude the same demon-thwarting attitudes as those featured in the books we all loved as youngsters.
If it gets the youths of today to pick up a book then we’re all for more Letterman/Jack Black’s vision of Goosebumps. It’s on safe ground and doesn’t push the boundaries an awful amount, but when it’s as fun and entertaining as this, there might be a new franchise that’ll be welcomed and favoured by children and adults alike.
Dir: Rob Letterman
Scr: Darren Lemke
Cast: Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Dylan Minnette, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell
Prd: Deborah Forte, Neal H. Mortiz
DOP: Javier Aguirresarobe
Music: Danny Elfman
Runtime: 103 minutes
Goosebumps is out on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on May 30th, 2016.