Movie Review: GOOSEBUMPS (2015) – Childish Horror Done Well
Movies aren’t objective. The quality of a movie greatly depends on the audience for which it’s been made. A movie that otherwise may not be conventionally intellectual and be ridden with plot holes, could still be an enjoyable experience given who the core audience is. With that in mind, ‘Goosebumps’ is a very fun and entertaining movie, that is probably the best possible example of a horror movie for children.
Check out my Review and let me know your experience with horror movies as a child.
Based on the popular horror books by author R. L. Stine, ‘Goosebumps‘ plays on the impact of the real life books and their status in the hearts of children everywhere, to create a story that is as engaging as it is fun.
The story sees Zach, (Dylan Minnette) a young boy moving into a new house, only to find that his neighbors are both interesting and creepy. As a mutual appreciation and like, like develops between Zach and his new neighbor friend Hannah, (Odeya Rush) her father interrupts with some psycho vibes, and quashes their budding romance. Fearing for Hannah’s safety, Zach breaks into their home, and unwittingly unleashes a hoarde of monsters from the popular ‘Goosebumps‘ books, that theaten to destroy the whole town.
It’s a brilliant way to tell this story, using the meta concept of the actual books that the movie is based on, as the plot device from which all the monsters arise. It’s a great tribute to existing fans (not most likely adults with kids of their own) and new audience of toddler to pre-teens, who may take up an interest in those very books after the movie.
Now the one thing that would’ve turned me off about this movie is Jack Black. His over the top boorish ways turn me off, except in certain movies. Glad to say that ‘Goosebumps‘ is one of those movies where the trademark Black-buffonery is kept to a minimum, within the context of the story. Black is quirky and creepy in all the right places, while still contributing to the story, and not just a ridiculous character that is forced to keep pace with the progress of the story.
The actual ‘horror’ is very watered down and always with a humorous bent to it. It’s more funny than scary, even though are more than enough jump scares to keep the kids on the edge of their seats. The movie works tremendously well as an adventure comedy, while introducing a younger audience to the concept of monsters and horror, in a way that’s not traumatizing or nightmare-ish. The film moves are a brisk pace, without too much exposition or slow talky parts, which the adult in me would have preferred, but was simple enough for my kids to follow.
Grown Up Complaints
If I am to pick at the movie a bit more, some things raise an eyebrow. The character development was probably the weakest. Zach’s backstory provides the reason for their new movie; his father’s untimely death. There are scenes where his mom played by Amy Ryan (‘The Office’, ‘Gone Baby Gone’) is shown as being concerned for her son, but that never actually culminates in anything. The adventure at the end of the movie doesn’t help Zach in any way get over the loss of his father, or open up to his mother, or anything even remotely related to that.
The ending of the film is not explained as much as I would have preferred. There is a great plot twist which was poorly executed in a way that didn’t make much sense, and almost undermined the the resolution of the story.
Back To Kid Mode
Ryan Lee’s Champ as the awkwardly geek kid was the best source of comedy through out the film. The visual effects were appropriately satisfying for a film that aims more to entertain than traumatize. All in all ‘Goosebumps‘ was a roaring success as a movie that is meant for pre-teens to young adults and features ghost stories around the camp-fire style of horror.
What sort of scary or horror films or TV were you interested in as a child?
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