goosebumps (3)

Vampire Owl: Movie adaptation of children’s horror fiction? What is this? We are the ones who are supposed to scare the children, not some random novels.

Vampire Bat: Not everywhere. There are regional people of darkness who have acquired the opportunity; for example, the rights for the same in Kerala were bought by Sir Kokachi.

Vampire Owl: But I wish to scare kids! I really want to really frighten them! It is my special skill!

Vampire Bat: Well, with Hotel Transylvania’s second part around, may be we will have to retire after all. I hope that this movie can support our cause.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

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Goosebumps is the name for a series of children’s horror fiction works written by Robert Lawrence Stine in the 1990s in the US. Among many such works from the American author, this particular series happened to be the most popular. There were also various spin-off series which emerged out of these works. These stories had the characteristic of being funny along with being scary. A television series was also brought to the fans based on the stories. Even though an attempt was made to create a movie on Goosebumps in the year 1998, it didn’t happen. After many speculations by the fans, on 16th of October 2015, the idea was finally brought to the audience in the form of a movie.

Zachary Cooper (Dylan Minnette) has moved from New York to the small fictional town of Madison with his mother Gale Cooper (Amy Ryan). As he begins his schooling there, his mother joins as the vice-principal at the same educational institution. The new place seems to be calm and quiet, and almost everything seems normal except for their neighbours. Even though Zachary quickly becomes close to the friendly neighborhood girl Hannah (Odeya Rush), her father (Jack Black) doesn’t approve of it, and he doesn’t even like anyone else coming near his house. As he tries to keep everyone away, Zachary only wishes to somehow get closer to the neighbours.

Zachary feels that Hannah is being mistreated by her father, and he calls the police. But that doesn’t go on as planned, with the police officers ending up warning him instead. But another day, he breaks into the house with his newly found friend from school, Champion (Ryan Lee) hoping to find her. In there, they find the girl, but it turns out that she and her father are not just normal people like everyone in the town. There is a mystery hidden in the bookshelves and they will end up unlocking them; it surely won’t do the town any good. A new adventure begins with an abominable snowman and a dummy as they unleash something which they can’t seem to stop.

The movie is sure to provide a good dose of nostalgia to those who have grown up reading the books and watching the television series. The impact will still depend on how people consider the way in which this movie shows the creatures related to their childhood memories. The creatures are all good, the most notable ones being Slappy the Dummy, the abominable snowman, the werewolf and the giant praying mantis. The others including the walking dead, vampire bats, ghost-like creatures, vampire-like monsters, the invisible boy, a circus clown and a number of humanoid creatures – all make a nice combination as they come to life from the books. There is a huge group of them, and fans will surely recognize them better.

Goosebumps is never even close to being scary, and the audience needs to keep that in mind. But it is fun, and the monsters are nice to watch on the big screen in 3D. As a horror comedy, this will prove to a fine watch for family audience. The comedy is good, and there are some memorable funny moments in this one, even though viewers might still ask for more. There is nothing new in the story either, and the movie doesn’t even bring a special sub-plot here. As most of the viewers might have guessed a lot earlier, monsters are all from books written by the author of the original series of books, and these main characters need to team up to get them back into the book before the whole town is ruined and everyone around ends up dead.

Jack Black effortlessly carries this movie as the main character and the only person who is in any manner related to these monsters, and holds the key to getting them back into the books. The audience will find that he blends easily into his character as expected. Dylan Minnette has done good work here in the role which can be categorized into that of the male lead. Ryan Lee has his moments completely on the funny side. Odeya Rush does her job really well, and some might find her somewhat a younger version of Mila Kunis at times. Amy Ryan and Jillian Bell manage to contribute well with the next two significant roles. R.L. Stine, the author of the works, also makes a very small cameo appearance as the movie gets near the end.

Even though people should find Goosebumps very much enjoyable, it does remind us of so many movies from the past. Inkheart had the characters from a book coming to life, while The Cabin in the Woods was a movie which had all the popular horror characters coming together as part of a huge, secret plan. Jumanji had the dangers of the board game coming to life to haunt the players, and Zathura dealt with a similar premise. So, the audience won’t find anything new in these creatures coming to life. But they will surely find Goosebumps to be a nice and interesting because of the way in which it is presented, with nostalgia also having a role to play for a few fans.

Release date: 30th October 2015 (India); 16th October 2015 (USA)
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Rob Letterman
Starring: Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Dylan Minnette, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage, Ken Marino, Steven Krueger, E. Roger Mitchell, Timothy Simons, Amanda Lund, Keith Arthur Bolden, Benjamin Papac, R.L. Stine


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.