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Goosebumps – Film Review

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Goosebumps – Film Review by Emily Elphinstone

Director: Rob Letterman
Writers: Darren Lemke (screenplay), Scott Alexander (story)
Stars: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush

Many people will be familiar with the Goosebumps series by R.L.Stine, even if they didn’t read the books themselves. Now they are once again brought to life (literally), with Jack Black playing the author himself.

Moving to small town Delaware from New York, teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette) has difficulty adjusting to suburban life, until he meets classic ‘girl next door’ neighbour Hannah (Odeya Rush). But it quickly becomes clear that her pantomime-villain father has good reason for deterring visitors: he is really author R. L. Stine (Jack Black), and the characters of his books have come to life, and must be locked safely into the books they came from. When Zach and hilarious sidekick Champ (Ryan Lee) unwittingly release ‘The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena’, they trigger a series of events which puts the whole town in danger.

 

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This may sound like another generic PG horror film, increasing the monster count and adding extra slime; but luckily director Rob Letterman and screenwriters Darren Lemke, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski have also added some wonderfully self-deprecating humour. With lines telling Stine to stop being like Stephen King, and a ventriloquists dummy intent on using puns for each new atrocity he unleashes, the film is surprisingly fresh, and has enough pace to keep the audience engaged throughout.

The film may not be scary for anyone over the age of twelve, but there’s something wonderfully familiar to its atmosphere. The brash ‘more is more’ storyline brings a pantomime quality to proceedings, echoed by Jack Black’s performance; but somehow this is more charming than tedious. However, some monsters are more successful than others. Voiced by Jack Black (who also voices the Invisible Boy), Slappy the ventriloquist’s dummy is brilliantly chilling; but an over-reliance on cgi prevents other monsters from offering any real sense of danger. With a magical Danny Elfman score to keep the action going, and surprisingly likeable (though very clean cut) characters, Goosebumps is more entertaining than its cgi–laden trailer may suggest.

 

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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