I definitely had a good time reading these books back in the day. The series was a fun little horror title with a good amount of twists and turns. The series peaked with the 12 book crossover event where various villains and leads met up and ultimately ended up fighting it out. The movie brings together a lot of the most iconic villains together and ends up being a solid experience.
We start off by seeing Zach and his Mom heading to a new house. Zach isn’t particularly happy about this but perks up when he meets their next door neighbor. Hannah tells Zach that the only fun thing to do around here is sneak into the abandoned amusement park at night and climb the Ferris Wheel. Ah well, he’ll make it work. Unfortunately her father isn’t quite as welcoming and threatens Zach not to go near her. Zach doesn’t really want to obey this and when he accidentally frees the most powerful Goosebump monsters it forces a most reluctant team up. Zach and Stine put aside their differences to save the town, but can they really defeat the powerful Slappy?
The film is at its best when the monsters are running around causing havoc. The Garden Gnomes do a pretty good job of getting the danger levels up right away. Admittedly I can’t take them all that seriously compared to the bigger monsters but they do have the numbers advantage which is always important. They can also regenerate in this film which is extremely handy and was unexpected. Then of course you have Slappy who is the best villain of the bunch. He is possibly a little too powerful here though. He has the ability to teleport and can also teleport objects that he is not in contact with. Then Slappy can create bright flashes of light which stun his opponents for a second. As you can imagine there isn’t really a way that he can lose here. He probably could have ended the main characters within a few minutes of first appearing. Still, the guy likes to put on a good show and is pretty theatrical about the situation.
The least impressive monsters were probably the Gel monster and the Yeti. The Gel one can’t even talk after all and the Yeti isn’t all that fierce. Some monsters/enemies that looked cool but didn’t get to do much were the aliens and the Kaiju. There are a lot of Goosebump enemies though so it’s hard to grab them all. I’m a little surprised we didn’t see the camera though, that’s still one of the best books.
Zach is a reasonable main character. As far as leads moving to a new house go, he actually takes it fairly well. The whole romance plot happens really quickly though. In context they’ve only known each other for around 2-3 days so that’s not much at all. There’s not much else to say against Zach though. He seems like a nice enough kid and one of his first instincts was to call the cops which is good. The guy is pro-active which is important in a main character. He is someone you can count on.
Then you have the friend who is definitely the annoying character of the group. He’s out of his depth from the start and constantly tries to run away. He also gets a very quick romance plot with one of those endings that probably will make you cringe. It feels a little too easy there and it may have been slightly better if the friend had any good scenes before trying to bite a monster. Otherwise you just can’t take this guy seriously.
The heroine is pretty reasonable here. Hannah probably could have saved them all some time earlier on though by either sending Zach a signal or realizing that the heroes may head for the books. I suppose Stine told her to hide while he talked to the cops and from there on maybe she actually obeyed his orders to keep to herself. I suppose Stine had to keep her hidden so the cops wouldn’t find out one of the twists but that definitely ended up making the situation pretty complicated for all of them. Stine isn’t nearly as solid as Hannah or Zach. He’s definitely more on the selfish side and you can’t really call him heroic. He’ll do what’s best for him and that’s it. The guy probably should have burned the books earlier to be honest.
There aren’t many supporting characters here, but I did like the cops. You’ve got the over eager newbie and the experienced guy who has seen it all. They may not be the most competent cops, but at least they mean well. You’ll probably be wishing they could have put up a better fight against the aliens, but in their defense it is a one hit KO scenario. If you don’t get the first hit then that’s game over.
Goosebumps is a fun film at its core though. It’s got a nice set of monsters to work with and the effects are pretty good. There is a proper sense of danger here as well. I’d say that the film’s main two weak points are the romance and some crude humor. The latter doesn’t happen much, possibly just a scene or two. It’s still pretty gross though. As for the romance, I’d say that both the main romance and the quick one with the friend don’t work well. You could also throw in Stine’s little thing at the very end. None of them feel natural and they’re all just forced in to have some romance thrown in. It really feels like the movie is just ticking a box with this.
I gotta give the movie some props for the ending as well. The ending is really 2 fold here. The first half is expected, but also narrative. If Stine didn’t make one last book it would have made absolutely no sense and the fact that Zach didn’t even think about this does reflect poorly on his character. If this was not a part of the ending I dare say that it could have cost the film a star. Then you’ve got the twist ending which is common for a horror film, but I admit that I wasn’t really sure Goosebumps would do it. Well, the film does add the twist here and I was really glad they did. It may not be a big thing, but personally it just rounds out the experience pretty well.
Overall, Goosebumps is a solid movie and one that is definitely worth seeing. It’s pretty nostalgic to see the monsters return for some action. It’s a nice adaption and it’ll be tough for the sequel to match this one. Not saying it isn’t possible of course, but it’ll need to be firing off on all cylinders to pull it off. If you are on the fence on watching this one or not I would say to just take the plunge. I believe you’ll be glad you did and you may even be surprised at how tough some of these monsters are.