R L Stine has sold 400 million copies of his Goosebumps books, on children facing down monsters, ghosts and ghouls. Goosebumps packs Stine as well as all of them in one film and raises barely a scare.
Or, given that Jack Black is playing Stine, and teaming up with old pal Letterman, barely a few laughs.
Stine going by the name Mr Shriver has a pretty daughter, Hannah (Rush), who invites the attraction of the inquisitive boy next door, Zach (Minnette). Convinced Shriver is hurting Hannah, Zach breaks in one night and accidentally breaks open the Goosebumps books that Shriver keeps locked. Once the books are opened, the monsters in them are released, and that sets the premise of the film. The rest is about escaping the monsters, and finding a way to put them back inside books.
There are many on display, in all shapes and sizes, and yet, as the film lurches between comedy and horror, none makes an impact but for the “Abominable Snowman”, and that’s only because he gets solo screen space. The film even takes a swing at Stephen King, and goes on to shoot one scene of Stine punching away at a typewriter under a banner that says ‘The Shining’.
And yet, King is everywhere. Including at a school dance much like Carrie, where horror lurks nearby, that goes unacknowledged.
The film apparently has Stine’s approval. It’s hard to see why.
Directed by Rob Letterman
Starring Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee