HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:83
If you grew up in the 90s then you pretty much HAD to have read, or at the very least known about, R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series of children’s horror books. They were a bit scary for the under 12 crowd that Stine aimed for, but were never anything to truly worry a parent. Some of the tales got a bit weird and creepy as the author went along with his novels, but families were safe, knowing that Stine would never go into the depths of craziness that Steven King was known for in the adult world. “Goosebumps” was kind of the harlequin romance of horror, with Stine writing what seemed like a book a week, to the point that bookstores actually couldn’t stock all of his books. Hundreds of books and several decades later, R.L. Stine is still pumping out the goods, and this time we not only have TV show as well as several offshoots movies, but a full length feature film based on the series. “Goosebumps” is more of a comedy with some of the old classic creatures thrown in for good measure, but it’s a fun adventure romp in the land of the horror writer, and a charmingly family one at that.
Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom Gale (Amy Ryan) have just moved to Madison, Delaware where Gale is now the town high school’s new assistant principal. Zach and his mother are getting over the recent death of Zach’s father, and the teenager is still a bit shy. His only friends come in the shape of the school loser, Champ (Ryan Lee) and the Hannah (Odeya Rush), the homeschooled daughter of the hermitish next door neighbor (played by Jack Black). Her stodgy father keeps Hannah locked up inside his house most of the time and snarls out threats to anyone who tries to get close to the two of them. After hearing a scream from Hannah one night, Zach calls the cops only to have the moronic cops find nothing and give the boy a warning. Sure that Hannah’s in trouble, Zach tricks the cowardly school loser, Champ, over to break into the house and find out what’s what.
When he gets inside the house, Zach discovers that daddy dearest may not be the real threat. Inside the house is an unhurt Hannah, but also every single original manuscript for every R.L. Stine “Goosebumps” novel ever written. All of them behind a case and locked shut with a key. Being the standard curious teenager, Zach opens a book, only to unleash one of the monsters from “Goosebumps”. Hannah, Zach and Champ do their best to recapture the monster before it’s too late, but only end up getting almost eaten if it wasn’t for the help of Hannah’s dad. Who ends up being R.L. Stine himself. It seems that Stine has been living on a terrible secret. Each and every one of his novel’s original manuscripts hold a power. The power of his own twisted imagination and if not kept locked away these demons, ghouls, ghosts and mummies will escape into the real world, causing chaos and havoc. Explaining this to the children, Stine is ready to pack his bags and get out of dodge once more, but he comes back to one more book opened. A book that holds his most terrifying creation ever, Slappy the ventriloquist dummy. You see, Slappy has been VERY displeased at being locked inside of a book and has taken control of each and every one of the books, unleashing them across town and burning the manuscripts to make sure they can never be caged again. Now Hannah, Zack, Stine, and Champ have to brave the creations of writer’s mind and hopefully put the magic dust back inside the bottle before it’s too late for….well….everyone.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63489[/img]I really wasn’t expecting much from “Goosebumps”, especially after the disaster that was the last straight to DVD inspired by “Goosebumps” movie I watched and reviewed a couple of months ago. However, I was rather pleasantly surprised by the movie. There was less creep and children’s “horror” as there was an adventure movie for kids with a heavy dose of comedy thrown in. The twist of having it be ABOUT R.L. Stine and his “Goosebumps” book instead of just one of his tales of terror was pretty nifty. Jack Black as Stine himself was a bit over the top, but then again, that’s just Jack Black. The horror aspect is REALLY downplayed, and instead the film focuses on the trial of getting the genie back in the proverbial bottle and winking and nodding along the way to a lot of the books that Stine created. In fact, every single one of the monsters if FROM an original “Goosebumps” book or so over the decade, and it was fun to see those old creatures of the 90’s and before come to life. Even if there really wasn’t a whole lot of suspense.
The change to make the film a comedy vs. a creepy tale of the macabre is well done, and I think that Children’s horror is already a dicey prospect to get right on PAPER, let alone a visual medium that might make it a little less kid friendly. There’s plenty of stupid points in the movie, e.g. the cops who come to the domestic violence call, and Champ’s wannabe ladies’ man status. Not to mention a few plot holes (I mean, WHY was Hannah screaming that night that Zach called the cops? Why was Stine so terrified all the time if the books were ACTUALLY locked away?). However, the film is still a boatload of fun for the kids, as my nieces and nephews were certainly having a blast.
Rated PG for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63497[/img]Shot in 2.39:1 scope with an AVC encode transfer, the Blu-ray disc of “Goosebumps” is an exceptional treat that any self-respecting TV will love to display. Bright colors abound at every turn, with the luscious greens of Delaware showing through incredibly well, combined with the golden hues of dim lights and splashes of primaries that adorn the movie. There is a lot of darkness in the film, so black levels are of paramount concern, and don’t disappoint in the slightest. The darks are deep and inky, with incredible shadow detail and not a single instance of banding that my eye could detect. Fine detail is fantastic all around, with long distance shots showing a teensy bit of softness, with the up close images showing razor sharp clarity across the board. The CGI is obvious in a movie like this, but they blend pretty seamlessly all things considering, even though I could see a CGI seam here and there.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63505[/img]Given a nice Dolby Atmos track (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core for those of you without an Atmos setup), “Goosebumps” really shines in the audio department. Aggressive and bombastic, the track is alive with all sorts of monster related chaos, beating you over the head and shoulders with wave after wave of punishing LFE (although I did find that the High School dance scenes were a little lacking in that punchy mid bass that you would expect from heavy dance music). The surrounds are extremely active with the sounds of man eating Venus fly traps growing and the shuffling sounds of a werewolf’s claws clattering across the grocery store floor. The heights show some heavy use too, giving the movie an incredible sense of directionality that encompasses the entire sound stage. Dialog is never a problem, and every word is intelligible even through the constant monster chaos.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63513[/img]• Alternate Opening
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes
• Cast Blooper Reel
• All About Slappy
• Casting Gallery
• Beginners Guide to Surviving a Goosebumps Creature
• Strange Things are Happening…On-Set
“Goosebumps” isn’t a great movie, but it’s certainly a fun little adventurist romp for the under 13 crowd (which is really the same demographic the books were aimed at), and even acts as a solidly fun movie for those of us who are much older and grew up on a steady diet of those pulp books. Audio and video certainly don’t disappoint, and there’s even a rather healthy array of extras. So if you’d like a family movie that’s actually appropriate for the whole family, I can see you do a LOT worse than “Goosebumps”. Recommended as a good rental
Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush
Directed by: Rob Letterman
Written by: Darren Lemke (Screenplay), Scott Alexander (Story)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 core), French DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 103 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Buy Goosebumps 2D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Goosebumps 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Check it Out
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