Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – Film Review by R Gill
Directed by Ari Sandel
Starring Wendy McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Ken Jeong, Chris Parnell, Jack Black
This sequel to the inventive 2015 spooky caper Goosebumps serves up more of the same good fun and the right level of creepiness; prompting nervous laughter over nightmares.
That said, the malevolent Slappy (who in this story, is released once again from the pages of an unpublished R.L.Stine novel) is legit creepy and would get on famously with Stripe of Gremlins fame. He’s about the same height too! I was straight up scolded by a 6-year old that Slappy is a dummy (not a puppet, a dummy). Ventriloquist dummies have always had that dark vibe. This one pretends he’s besties with our heroes, before turning it all sour as soon as inhumanly possible.
Goosebumps 2 takes some high notes from The Goonies and Hocus Pocus, adding in a vaguely 80s vibe. It’s a good family laugh and as an October pre-Halloween outing, it doesn’t put a foot wrong. Well almost; either more Jack Black would be nice, or none at all. His appearance is somewhat downplayed. Overall, the cast do an admirable job rather than anyone stealing the show.
Scenes featuring panicked kids getting spooked out of it are punctuated with some amusing interactions between McLendon Covey, (Bridesmaids/ The Goldbergs) and Parnell (Dr Spaceman from 30 Rock). Watch out for actual R. L. Stine as a science award presenter.
The pace is good, the action starts up smartly and the energy is sustained throughout, with few lulls. The film somewhat messily tumbles to a close, but overall remains intact. The kids who accompanied me to the screening loved it, though youngest was a little scared, more about the prospect of what Slappy might do next than what transpired. As it happens, trying to spook the place out using a Nikola Tesla coil all seemed vaguely scientific and somehow less sinister.
In short, in the pantheon of Halloween family treat movies, it’s a good ‘un, best served with popcorn and expectations for a decent family day out, rather than an instantly memorable classic.