To some making a Goosebumps film in 2015 may have seemed like a doomed project. With the social media obsessed youth of today we are lead to believe that films based on children's books no longer interest today's children. However I think there is an ace up the sleeve of this film and it comes in the form of nostalgia.
Our story begins in a familiar suburban setting, Zach (Minnette) has just moved to a new neighbourhood and the only interesting thing about the place is his next-door neighbour and her eccentric and overprotective farther, who just happens to be Goosebumps author R.L Stine. After suspecting his neighbour may be in danger, Zach and his new found friend Champ (Lee) sneak into the neighbour's house and discover a library of strangely locked Goosebumps books. These are no ordinary books as once opened they unleashed the horrors within their pages. What later ensues is a Ghostbusters style round up of all the terrifying creations of author R.L Stine.
Soon the unlikely team of 4 is band together and race against time trying to round up the supernatural terrors before the town is overrun. There is a wide variety of classic characters from the novels on display here, some well known and some not so (Aliens with freeze guns!?) The cast is so huge by the you may actually miss some if you aren't paying attention, but honestly this is a good excuse to watch the whole film all over again. The main protagonist is the delightfully devilish Slappy, one of R.L Stine's most infamous horror and also voiced by Jack Black. It was such a joy trying to spot your favourite ghouls and creatures from years ago as Slappy carelessly released them one after another! All my childhood memories (pleasant and scary) came rushing right back.
The small but well rounded cast worked well together and the constant banter between Zach and Mr Stine was thoroughly amusing. The most laughs however came from the cowardly but loveable Champ, he had some real laugh out loud moments and was the main comic relief. There was a slight love sub plot which was handled better than in most teen young adult flicks, this was very subtle and kind of charming if not a a tad predictable. The story ultimately lead to a high school/fun fair show down which while exciting, ended a little too cleanly. It would have been nice to have a few more scares and close calls but it was a satisfying wrap up and fitted the fun feel and innocent theme of the film.
The pacing of Goosebumps was very paint by numbers which could be seen as a negative, this did allow the audience to get a little bit too comfortable as you new there were never going to be too many shocks or surprises.
The thing that truly shone in Goosebumps was it's sheer innocence, there were no 'adult jokes' or mature references, this was adventure and fun in it's purest form. This was a film that cared about it's audience, looked to it's past whilst keeping one foot firmly in the present. Goosebumps is a well crafted, heartfelt and charming nod to a fantastic 90's show and a decade defining author.