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Goosebumps review: A campy pleasure

The film’s creepiest creation is the arch-villain, a ventriloquist’s dummy voiced in appropriately menacing tones by Black. Predictably, the film allows the computer-generated creatures to take centrestage at the expense of its human characters.

movie reviews Updated: Oct 31, 2015 15:33 IST
Rashid Irani
(YOUTUBE GRAB)

Goosebumps
Direction: Rob Letterman
Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette
Rating: 2.5/5

A throwback to the creature features popular with pre-teens back in the 1980s (Gremlins; Ghoulies; The Goonies), this is an action adventure that attempts - with varied success - to blend humour and horror.

Cobbled together from the children’s book series by RL Stine, Goosebumps (notice that this title too begins with a G) is a family-friendly fantasy about an author’s fear of his own creations. Aiming to lure the elementary-school set, director Letterman (Gulliver’s Travels) stays true to the scary-but-not-too-scary storylines of the source novels.

The spotlight is on a teenager (Minnette) who, along with his widowed mother (Amy Ryan), moves from a big, bustling city to a quiet little town. The new kid has barely unpacked his bags when he meets cute with his next-door neighbour.

As it turns out, she’s the shut-in daughter of the reclusive writer (Black, going through the motions with a manic grin) who has penned the titular fright-mares. Believing that she is being held captive by her father, the well-intentioned lad breaks into their house only to discover a bookcase full of locked Goosebumps manuscripts.

When he inadvertently unlocks one, a flood of CGI nasties is unleashed onto the real world. The rest of the narrative is a non-stop chase across the besieged town, with Stine and the youngsters striving to drag the monsters back into the pages of the books from which they have been freed.

Read: Sign in for monster fun this Halloween

Predictably, the film allows the computer-generated creatures to take centrestage at the expense of its human characters. From the Abominable Snowman to a giant praying mantis and kill-happy garden gnomes, most of the monsters Stine conjured up are present and accounted for.

The film’s creepiest creation is the arch-villain, a ventriloquist’s dummy voiced in appropriately menacing tones by Black. At best, Goosebumps is a campy pleasure.