Zach Cooper and his mother move to a new town and into a new house with very strange neighbors: Mr. Shivers, who essentially tells them to stay away from his house, and his daughter Hannah, who seems to not be allowed to leave her house. Zach is still interested in her however, so after talking to her she breaks this rule and takes Zach to see an abandoned amusement park, a place special to her. But when they returns they are confronted by Mr. Shivers, who warns Zach to stay away from them or something terrible will happen. Later on, he hears what sounds like Hannah screaming, and after a series of events ends up breaking into her house with his socially awkward new friend from school, Champ. In this house they find a library of manuscripts, the manuscripts of the infamous R.L. Stine. However, these are not just ordinary manuscripts, rather they’re infused with magic, manuscripts which upon opening unleash their horrors upon the world. And unfortunately for them, it seems they accidentally open all of them.
This was a movie that upon seeing the trailers I had very little hope for, but turned out far better than I expected. It felt very true to the books in a way, in that all the books are somewhat scary and creepy, but not ridiculously so. In a way this terror aspect is somewhat childish, but in another it’s more along the lines of the enjoyably creepy. The ‘scares’ are incredibly similar to the Goosebumps scares in that they’re more exciting and creepy than terrifying. There’s a somewhat unique style to the Goosebumps books that this captures perfectly. It’s not a true horror movie, with the primarily goal not being to completely terrify and unsettle the viewer, but rather has the style that’s slowly grown around Halloween and similar culture, with a lot of suspense, solid comedy, and a pretty decent plot surrounding that. It also had the Goosembumps style structure of a beginning that’s somewhat normal acting as a build up, everything going crazy, and then things seeming to be resolved, until one final twist where it just ends, the last of which I feel is very crucial to the formula and hence was was very glad they had. The cast of characters were well done, especially R.L. Stine, but Zach, Hannah, and Champ as well. There was a good amount of character development, though a good bit of it was heavy handed. The cameo of the actual R.L. Stine as Mr. Black, the band teacher, was also a nice touch that was quite memorable. The CG was solid. The music was great and memorable in its own right, however I missed the classic Goosebumps theme. I feel they should have had it, even if it was just in the credits for nostalgia purposes.
I was a bit sketchy on it at first, but it was exactly what I wanted from a Goosebumps movie.
There are a lot of things I like they didn’t have though. I’m hoping for some sort of sequel. Maybe Horrorland. I want monster blood. And the mask.