Movie Name: “Goosebumps”
Release Date: 16th of October 2015
Release: Theatrical Release
MPAA Rating: PG
Horror Sub-genre: Horror Comedy
Synopsis: A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R.L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Greendale, Maryland.
“Goosebumps” Film Analysis
“Goosebumps” is the long awaited and perhaps overdue film adaptation based on the children’s horror novels written by R.L. Stein. The film is directed by Rob Letterman, Darren Lemke contributed the storyboard in conjunction with the collaborative work on the story by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The “Goosebumps” franchise was previously televised with successful seasons running between the years 1995 to 1998. Episodes were a visual adaptation of select novels based off of R.L. Stein’s extensive library.
The concept utilized in the “Goosebumps” film takes a different approach from the television series. Instead of focusing on one particular monster or evil menace the production team behind “Goosebumps” decided to squeeze most (if not all) of R.L. Stein’s creatures into a one hundred minute long feature presentation. The execution subtracted any form of suspense from the story line and offered in its place a weak attempt at Horror comedy.
The central plot to the film, “Goosebumps” begins when teens accidentally unleash a supernatural element from one of R.L. Stine’s books after breaking into Horror author’s home. Ventriloquist’s dummy Slappy (voiced by Jack Black) later conjures more of R.L. Stein’s creatures by dropping the Horror author’s manuscripts across the quiet town of Greendale, Maryland.
First and foremost the majority of act one to the “Goosebumps” film focuses on Zach (portrayed by Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (Portrayed by Amy Ryan) who move to the quiet town of Greendale, Maryland from the bustling life of New York. Its revealed that Gale has secured employment at the local high school as vice principal and both mother and son are looking to start a new chapter in their lives. However, absent are any in-depth backstory to these characters. Although, its presented that Zach’s father had passed, the film doesn’t delve anywhere near in explaining that trauma in his life. How did Zack’s father die and why did it impact both mother and son so deeply that they had to move? The irony here is that the “Goosebumps” film is based off literary works of a famed author. One would suspect that properly fleshed out characters would be of primary execution in a film such as this.
The performances offered in the “Goosebumps” film were a vain attempt at comedy. Actress Jillian Bell portrayal of Gail’s sister, Lorraine is executed with an approach she’s done many times over in previous movie roles. The sidekick / comedic relief, Champ (portrayed by Ryan Lee ) is the cliched unpopular, bumbling oaf who finds true love at the end of the film. Even the incomparable Jack Black was hammy and illogical in his portrayal of horror author R. L.Stein. For example, while monsters run amok across Greendale, world renowned author R.L. Stein lacked both imagination and analytical prowess to bring the creatures back to their imprisonment. There are more instances that makes Jack Black’s character helpless and unworthy of screen time. Since it is Zach who offers all the answers, falls in love with the heroine, has an official sidekick and slays monsters the film should have been titled “Zach vs Goosebumps Creatures”
Finally, the heavy use CGI and special effects were similar to techniques implemented fifteen years ago. Perhaps the monsters were intentionally created to offer a family-friendly approach or perhaps not, in any event the approach lacked the visual sophistication offered with today’s standards.
If you’re a fan of the “Goosebumps” franchise, or Jack Black or perhaps even Amy Ryan the film may be a pleasing experience. However, there wasn’t any not worthy moments in the film “Goosebumps” that merits inclusion in this section of this film analysis.
The comedy element to the film “Goosebumps” treads on the thin line of stupidity, an exhibition that garners dissatisfaction while watching the film. One can debate in defense of the “Goosebumps” film by saying; it targets child to young adult demographic. While that may be true, its also partially correct. The young adult demographic are only now being introduced to “Goosebumps” franchise that parents have been familiar with since the nineties. The “Goosebumps” film does little to bring nostalgic elements and fails miserably as a horror comedy.
- 0-10 Avoid
- 11-20- Mediocre
- 21-30 -Good
- 31-40 – Average
- 41-50- Decent
- 51-60 – Stunning
- 71-80 – Must See
- 81-90 – Amazing
- 91-100 – Impressive