tek's rating: ½

Goosebumps (PG)
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Well... "Goosebumps" books started coming out in 1992, but I've never read any of them. There was a TV series based on the books from 1995-98, but I never saw that, either. This movie came out in 2015, but I didn't see it until 2018. I watched the DVD on the night that "The House with a Clock in Its Walls" came out in theaters. (It has no relation to this movie or to Goosebumps in general, but I chose to watch it because both movies star Jack Black, and they both have a similar sort of "children's horror" vibe.) Of course, despite not being familiar with any of R.L. Stine's books, I was certainly aware of them, and the TV series. And not really knowing any specifics of the stories didn't preclude me from enjoying this movie quite a bit. It was fairly amusing, and the monsters (most if not all CGI) were reasonably scary... I mean, not super scary, in any direct way, as far as adult viewers should be concerned, but they made me feel legitimate concern for the characters. And I suppose it's possible they could be actually scary for young kids. But mostly it's just a fun movie. I do want to mention there was a plot twist that I predicted pretty much from the start, but I thought it was pretty well done.

Anyway, there's a teenage boy named Zach Cooper, whose father died a year ago. He and his mother, Gale, now move from New York to Madison, Delaware, where Gale starts a new job as vice principal at the Zach's new high school. Zach expects to find the town boring, but he soon meets his new neighbor, Hannah, and the two of them immediately hit it off. However, Hannah's father, Mr. Shivers (Jack Black), warns Zach to stay away from both his daughter and himself. Later, on his first day at school, Zach is befriended by a dweebish kid named Champ, who has a crush on a popular girl named Taylor (Halston Sage), who apparently thinks his name is Chump. One night, Zach witnesses what he thinks is Mr. Shivers threatening Hannah, and her screaming. He calls the cops, but they believe Mr. Shivers's story rather than Zach's. So Zach subsequently tricks Mr. Shivers into leaving his house, and enlists Champ's help to break in and look for Hannah.

While there, they find a bookshelf full of individually locked manuscripts, which turn out to be the books of R.L. Stine. Zach isn't much impressed by this, though Champ is a big fan of the books, and is curious about why they're locked. Zach finds a key and unlocks one of them, which ends up unleashing an abominable snowman. Hannah then shows up and tries to suck the monster back into the book, where it had been a prisoner. But it escapes from the house, and she starts chasing it. Zach and Champ follow and try to help. But after some valiant efforts at an ice rink, they're about to be killed by the monster, until Mr. Shivers shows up and recaptures it in the book. Zach and Champ then learn that he actually is R.L. Stine, and how the monsters he imagines become real, which is why he has to keep them locked up. Unfortunately, another creature from one of his books had been accidentally released, Slappy the ventriloquist's... puppetlike thing that ventriloquists use, you know? And when Slappy learns that Stine wants to put him back in his book, he steals all the other books to release all the monsters, who wreak havoc throughout Madison. So, Stine, Zach, Hannah, and Champ have to try to thwart Slappy's plans.

Well, I don't want to reveal any more of the plot. I suppose I should mention a few other characters. The main one is Zach's aunt Lorraine. There's also a gym teacher played by Ken Marino, but that's a pretty minor role. There's also a cop named Stevens who is training a rookie named Brooks. I thought they were both amusing, especially Brooks. But mostly I liked the four main characters. And I thought Zach and Hannah's chemistry was decent. And... I don't know what else to say.

Followed by Goosebumps 2

family horror index

R.L. Stine
IMDb; official website; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia

TV series: Goosebumps * The Nightmare Room * The Haunting Hour
Movies: The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It * Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls * Goosebumps * Goosebumps 2 * Zombie Town
"Mostly Ghostly" movies: Who Let the Ghosts Out? * Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? * One Night in Doom House