My mum enjoys reading books by authors such as James Herbert and Stephen King. My older sister use to collect Goosebumps by R.L.Stine, Shivers by M.D.Spenser and eventually moved onto point horror. Naturally, I was drawn towards giving horror stories a go myself and Goosbumps was where I started. My reading skills weren’t actually good enough at first, but having an older sibling means that you get a preview of what’s to come before you’re old enough to tackle it yourself. The covers with that bright bubbly goo attracted my attention. My first one was Monster Blood, because the hamster stood out to me. Once I was able to read them comfortably I was hooked and my sister and I enjoyed collecting them together. We avidly watched the show too.
So when I heard there was going to be a Goosebump’s film I was overjoyed. Admittedly I wasn’t expecting much from it, but just a revisit to the nostalgia of my childhood was exciting enough. I’d made the assumption that it was going to be childish and cheesy, although such films have never made sense to me as I’m not sure if they’re still popular with kids today and the rest of us have grown up (I imagine there were many other adults like myself eager to see this for the same reason.) Luckily I was wrong and Goosebumps turned out to be a highly entertaining film. There’s a lot of comedy in it that can appeal to adults as well as kids. There was no point at which I felt out of place being there, and as I looked around I noticed there were lots of other adults enjoying it too. The references were fun, bringing me back to the roots of what got me into the horror genre in the first place.
The film doesn’t focus on just one story, but on a collection of R.L.Stine’s monsters. They become freed from the pages of the manuscripts and start to wreak havoc, with Slappy the dummy as their leader. This creates the opportunity to re-visit a lot of our favourites. Some monsters seemed to get more screen time than others and I would have liked a bit more variety than what was shown. The first few encounters didn’t feel like they fit in too well, as they saw one monster at a time sequentially. Eventually more of the monsters are shown on screen working together. I guess one of the issues with trying to fit so much into one film is that while there’s a greater chance of seeing our favourites, we don’t get to see many of the distinctive qualities that made them special. Each monster overall feels similar in terms of threat, just with a different appearance. The encounters are fun, but Slappy is really the main star of the film. Luckily I was a fan of the Night of The Living Dummy and it felt right for him to take centre stage.
The actors in this film also put on a great performance. Jack Black is brilliant as R.L.Stine, a role he takes with a lot of humour. The main protagonists are also very likeable, despite all of their shortcomings. We see some depth and character growth throughout the film. I also loved the cameo from R.L.Stine at the end, who I was fond to see again after all the introductions he made during the show.
Overall the Goosebumps film was a fun nostalgic trip that didn’t disappoint. It might not appeal if you haven’t read the books, but for any person that grew up on horror stories this is very much recommended.