HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: R.L. Stine's Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls
HTS Overall Score:62
We don’t have very much horror for the younger crowd, however R.L. Stine has been bringing horror to the middle school and younger crowd for decades. I worked in a book store during the 90’s and let me tell you that R.L. Stine DOMINATED the younger generation books, along with Judy Blume and the like. We stocked literally hundreds of his little books that seemed to come out as regularly as a Harlequin romance novel. They were always aimed at a younger audience and mildly spooky for them without being truly terrifying, but they were fun harmless entertainment. R.L. Stine even has a TV show called “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour”. With the new “Goosebumps” movie coming out, “R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls” pops on to the scene with typical R.L. Stine flair, this time seemingly aimed at high schoolers.
Beth (Dove Cameron), Kellen (Braeden Lemasters), Nicole (Tiffany Espensen) and Luke (Casey Dubois) are all friends in their home town. Kellen has a bit of a crush on Beth (for like a few years at least), but hasn’t got the guts to tell her. Almost able to at the local Halloween festival, he stumbles and falters, giving Hunter (Ryan McCartan), the hunky new kid in school, the chance to make his move. While Beth and Ryan are mooning over each other, the other 3 friends get hooked into going to the House of Horrors, a new haunted house down the road. Run by a mysterious man named Dr. Hysteria (Andrew Kavadis), the place seems a bit too……real…. For Beth. As students start disappearing, Beth starts to dig a bit deeper into the House of Horrors, only to find more than what she was looking for.
Ok, let me get this off my chest. I honestly don’t mind films for kids. I don’t even mind watching the Barbie movies, Thomas the Tank Engine. They’re not meant for me, and I can still appreciate the fun they bring to the table for younger kids. This, on the other hand, is actually more horrifying than anything I’ve seen as an adult. Not because it’s scary, but more because I’ve horrified that someone would watch this drivel. R.L. Stine’s works are usually meant for middle school and under kids, I get that. “Monsterville” fails in an epic way by trying to market this for high school students. The actors are about ready to graduate college and the storylines still feel like they’re targeted at 10-11 year olds. Beth and Kellen’s mooning romance and falling for the “wrong” people is so blatantly obvious that a 2 year old could pick it up in a heartbeat. The villains (even the hidden villains) all rasp their lines out in overly dramatic ways, so obviously “bbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad” that I’m surprise the kids weren’t staring at them uncomfortably and tell them “hey, what are you talking like that”?
The acting tips it over the edge though. I’ve seen middle school plays with better actors that “Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls” could muster up. Dove Cameron is the best of the batch, along with Katherine McNamara, but they can’t do a whole lot with the direction they’ve been given. Bad acting, bad makeup (REAL zombies are very obviously a rubber mask with some makeup and NO CGI to blend them), and bad script make this one an epic fail. Had this been marketed at a younger audience, I could forgive some of these mistakes, but aiming it directly at an older high school audience just leaves this one feeling cold and dead.
Rated PG for scary images throughout, thematic material, some violence and rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56977[/img]“Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls” is a good encode. It’s got plenty of colors, lots and lots of spooky shadows and more than enough fine detail to go around. It’s shot on the cheap, so you can see all the little glitches and prosthetic blends with the makeup, but that’s not really a problem with the encode. Black levels are appropriately dark and show some nice shadow detail. There’s a TEENSY bit of crush here and there, but that’s to be expected in a DVD with lots and lots of black. Overall it’s a very nice looking disc, with a solid job done by Universal.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56985[/img]The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio shows some spooky ambiance going on. With a Halloween themed film you’re sure to get lots of creepy music and creaking doors to immerse you (and scare you) with the surround usage. The dialog is always intelligible and firmly rooted up front in the center channel. Surrounds really get a workout here with the music (and even a musical dance number), but he amount of creepy sounds coming from them was exemplary. There’s some solid LFE to add some weight behind slamming doors and roaring beasts, but nothing that will shock you or wake the dead.
“Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls” just can’t seem to find its footing. The first 30 minutes is extremely painful, but actually picks up steam for the second act. The third act, unfortunately, squanders what little headway it made in the previous act, and just meanders along towards a ridiculously clichéd ending. I have a lot of forgiveness for children’s movies, but when you make a BAD children’s movie, even the adults can see the difference. If I had to say, I’d rather dunk my head in a vat of acid, or nay, listen to Lady Gaga for hours on repeat than ever afflict my children with this little Halloween “treat”. SKIP IT!
Starring: Dove Cameron, Ryan McCartan, Katherine McNamara
Director: Peter DeLuise
Written By: Billy Brown, Dan Angel
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 86 Minutes
DVD Release Date: September 29th, 2015
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Recommendation: Skip It
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