Review: ‘Goosebumps’ brings kid horror series to life
A stellar cast, including Jack Black, Jillian Bell and a bunch of monsters, celebrates R.L. Stine’s popular book series
If titles like “Welcome to Dead House,” “Night of the Living Dummy” and “Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes” mean anything to you, you’re likely a millennial (or the parent of a millennial) who grew up reading “Goosebumps,” author R.L. Stine’s series of hugely popular kiddie horror books that sold some 400 million copies worldwide.
“Goosebumps” pays tribute to those fans by bringing to life the entire series all at once, like if Marvel had dispensed with the individual origin stories and jumped right to “The Avengers.”
“Goosebumps” isn’t on par with “The Avengers,” just as the Blob that Ate Everyone isn’t comparable to Iron Man. But it’s a fun, funny ride that cleverly honors Stine and his work.
Zach (Dylan Minnette) couldn’t be less enthused about moving from New York to sleepy Madison, Delaware. As the film opens, he tells his mom (Amy Ryan) he’d rather move anywhere — Guantanamo Bay, North Korea, even Detroit.
His next-door neighbor, Hannah (Odeya Rush), is kept indoors by her overprotective father (Jack Black). Turns out he’s the hermit-like author behind the “Goosebumps” series, and when Zach cracks open one of the books, the characters jump from the pages and terrorize their town.
A stellar cast, including “22 Jump Street’s” Jillian Bell (as Zach’s aunt) and “Veep’s” Timothy Simons (as a dimwitted cop), add a cool prestige to the proceedings, and Rob Letterman’s direction keeps things lively.
“Goosebumps” isn’t detached or ironic, nor does it pretend to be something it’s not. It’s a bonus for fans who pored over the books and it celebrates the fun side of things going bump in the night.
Rated PG for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor
Running time: 103 minutes