Goosebumps is a 2015 horror comedy film directed by Rob Letterman and starring Dylan Minnette and Jack Black. It is such a fun flick, albeit very problematic.
I really liked the story of the film. It is very intriguing at first and it has an excellent attention to detail. The highlights here are definitely the scene at the abandoned amusement park which is so charming, the scene where they are chased by a werewolf is some good action and the sequences where the monsters are unleashed are all fantastic. That whole first act is so phenomenal as it is a great build up and an excellent introduction to the plot that is very interesting when you think about it.
However, the film stumbles in its second half which is really unfortunate. It could have been a future family classic hadn’t it resorted to such a stupidly frenetic pace and an excessive use of action. I also strongly disliked the ending. It didn’t work for multiple reasons. First of all, let me just say that I loved that twist. By revealing that Hannah is imaginary herself and that her father created her, that opened a lot of great storytelling possibilities and was genuinely a nice twist, but also a somewhat expected and not too far-fetched one. But they never explored any of those possibilities whatsoever which is so unfortunate. He should have just written her name and she wouldn’t have to go away. That was a stupid and illogical moment. But the ending is even worse as they brought her back in such a ridiculous fashion. They were afraid to end this film on a sad note and resorted to a typical family-friendly safe choice that is here in particular really poor and not in line with the film’s sensibilities.
Yes, the film is mature otherwise. Despite that poor ending, Goosebumps is mostly very adult-oriented which I appreciated. And although there were no real scares here, the film still had a couple of mildly creepy moments, especially with the gnomes in a scene that reminded me so much of ‘Gremlins’. And the humor is really good and I laughed out loud many times. The sexual jokes are so funny and Zach’s aunt is just such a hilarious character.
Yes, she is such a good comic relief here. Almost everything she said was so funny and frequently hilarious. I also liked Zach a lot as he isn’t a typical protagonist and his family drama is well realized. However, I found his change in personality to be very troublesome. First, he was scared of anything and even the smallest things and later on he is suddenly a hero and isn’t afraid of the monsters. That was ridiculous. Hannah is quite likable and sweet and the relationship between the two is endearing. Zach’s mother is also a fine character who provides some laughs as well. All of the monster characters are fantastic with Slappy of course being the creepy highlight.
However, I really disliked the character of Champ as he is a stereotype and a very annoying one. And I don’t understand why he sticked with them for so long. R.L. Stine is also an annoying character that had some funny lines, but is mostly frustrating. Jack Black is one of the biggest problems here. I really disliked his performance as his delivery was quite shaky at times and his accent was all over the place. And the casting director did a poor job as he doesn’t fit this role at all. But other actors did well with Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush being surprisingly good and Jillian Bell is just phenomenal here and so funny and charismatic.
Goosebumps is technically a strong film. The cinematography could have been better as it is always too dark which annoys me and the score is also not great, but the action is so well executed here with some of the scenes being so exciting to watch. The whole movie is very interesting and engaging to watch and it just flies by. And despite its rushed and ridiculously fast-paced second half, the first half was very well paced and always entertaining and well crafted. The film is imaginative and even unique at some points with the monsters all being exceptionally well utilized. The special effects are fantastic and all of the monsters look really good and have such a great design. The dialogue is okay, but could have been better. And the film is emotional and sweet at times. It has so many problems in the second half, but is otherwise a solid film and a very entertaining watch.