Fun for the family but not many goosebumps
Horror comedy/103 minutes/Opens today
Teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his educator mom Gale (Amy Ryan) move to the small town of Madison, but Zach finds the place dull. Things brighten up when he meets girl-next-door Hannah (Odeya Rush), the daughter of the enigmatic Mr Shivers (Jack Black). But things go awry after Zach and nerdy school friend Champ (Ryan Lee) learn about Mr Shivers' secret and accidentally unleash horrors into the world.
DIRECTOR Rob Letterman's big-screen adaptation of the popular 1990s teen-horror Goosebumps novels by author R. L. Stine, is hair-raisingly fascinating - but won't leave you peeking under the bed before you go to sleep.
In other words, it's a mildly scary but entertaining movie fit for the whole family.
In the film, the antisocial Mr Shivers is revealed to be writer Stine himself (a very loose adaptation of the real Stine, who makes a cameo in the movie) and his original manuscripts for the Goosebumps books are actually cages for real-life monsters.
But Zach and Champ accidentally release the monsters from the books, leading to such creatures as aliens, gnomes and a werewolf - led by a vengeful ventriloquist's dummy named Slappy (voiced by Black) - running amok.
Goosebumps is the third collaboration between Letterman and Black - after animated film Shark Tale and live-action flick Gulliver's Travels - and, once again, shows Black's ability to underpin an entire film.
For one thing, Black gives a sincere and convincing performance as the voice of antagonist Slappy, who embodies loneliness and frustration.
The cast also brings a ton of personality to the story, although the character Gale and her zany sister Lorraine (Jillian Bell) feel underwritten.
While the kid-friendly film is targeted at millennials, older moviegoers who read the Goosebumps novels in their 1990s heyday may just get nostalgic from watching the movie.
And as Black's Stine character says at the end of the film, every good story consists of a beginning, a middle and a twist; and, who knows, Goosebumps might even make the mobile screen-obsessed younger generation read the actual books.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK