The book series that got me hooked to reading many years ago has tried to keep its relevance as up-to-date as possible. With the first installment doing pretty well, it’s no surprise that they made a second film and yours truly is ready to dive in and figure out what lies in the latest book of R.L. Stine. Can this family friendly horror keep things spooky enough to warrant a theater visit? Robbie K here with a review on the latest silver screen sensation:
Movie: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)
Family Friendly: The Goosebumps books have been a solid intro into the world of horror that brings kids into the fold of literature. This movie sticks to those guns and adds that kid friendly element to warrant a try for a family outing. Is it dark? Yes, but the studio managed to dilute the darkness to be manageable (for the most part) that kids should have a laugh at it. Case in point a three-year-old did very well in my viewing.
Good Pace: Short and to the point, this movie was a quick, fun adventure that did little to slow the antics down. From the get go, you’ll be immersed into the adventure at hand, as what can be describes Stranger Things, meets a Disney vibe and is executed well. The fact that time seems to fly by is a good sign that this will be fun for most. Plus, 90 minutes is a good target goal in my opinion.
Creature Design: While certainly not as epic as Stine’s descriptions in his book, the crew in the movie studio have done some decent research. The new creatures that inhabit the screen have got some flare to them, and while not the most realistic, at least have that same Stine vibe to them to still be easy for the little ones to handle.
The Use of Slappy: Slappy in the last film was not as utilized as I expected, reserved for a few jokes and that was it. The sequel though really brought him out in spades, using him to establish a bit ,ore of the horror element, while also grounding the story down. Slappy was much more himself in this installment, his malicious side mixed with his deceitful antics bringing back memories of the horror that was Slappy in his books. A solid antagonist to support the story, I enjoyed this character much more.
Under Utilization of Characters: The kids get center stage and do well, but the older cast members not as involved as I was hoping. Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ken Jeong were reduced to a few short sequences, still bringing their tricks to trade, but not getting involved in the story like I had hoped. As for Jack Black, he’s there, but not much more I can say . They really diluted “Stine’s” part in this film and left me a little bummed with my Haunted Halloween treat.
Not as Much Nostalgia: Part of the fun of the last movie was all the references to the books and trying to find the cameos in their involvement. Sadly, this film short sheeted us in this factor. Yes, there are a few nods, but Haunted Halloween is trying to go a little more original than its predecessor. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just I missed the find your childhood reference component from the first film.
More Creature involvement: Design might be good, but Haunted Halloween 2 didn’t use their creatures to their full potential either. Many creatures get their kicks for a few seconds before being reduced to background images and occasional sound effect. Such a step down in this design, Haunted Halloween didn’t have quite the spectacular impasses they wanted to bring in, and that left me feeling a little bored in terms of suspense.
Predictability/Trailer Spoilers: My friend Tim has shared wisdom of be careful what trailers you watch. These words are very applicable to this movie, as watch enough of the trailers and you have 80% of the movie. Haunted Halloween has little in terms of grand surprises, and by watching these trailers, you can skip this film in the theater.
The Story Component: It’s not that the story was bad, but it was much less involved than the first installment. Very straightforward, very cliché, and very piecemeal that it feels like an unfinished manuscript. Slappy may have tied things together and made one heck of an antagonist, but their execution of his skill set was just missing something. Some of the antics, gimmicks, and threats were very lighthearted, and due to the kid atmosphere, I feel they threw some punches to not go too extreme to leave nightmares.
Goosebumps 2 has some fun little quirks that will be very appropriate for the family atmosphere of the movie. With good creature design and pacing it shows some promise to being the horror movie for the young and young at heart. However, the originality factor took a little from the adventure I enjoyed in the first installment, primarily at how disjointed this movie felt in integrating all its characters and creatures. It’s a step back in quality overall, and you can skip this one due to the trailers, but not the worst movie to come out overall.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 5.5