A boy and his friends open up R.L. Stine's books and the pages come to scary life. Rated PG-13 (perilous situations, scary images).
Sure to scare and entertain young and old.
Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush
R.L. Stine's creepy "Goosebumps" books have created many a sleepless night for youngsters too old for "Itsy Bitsy Spider" but not mature enough to face a real nightmare like Freddy Krueger.
Television shows based on Stine's books have provided the same structure for those not old enough to face the likes of "American Horror Story" or "The Strain."
The film "Goosebumps" does the same thing for horror films. An older audience may feel nostalgic for the books or get a smile out of the cornucopia of creatures that come to life. But the movie is aimed at the same youth market that embraces the books.
"Goosebumps" opens like so many of Stine's books. Average teen Zach (Dylan Minnette) moves to a seemingly quiet town. He is attracted to his next door neighbor, Hannah (Odeya Rush), but is given a stern warning by her father (Jack Black) to stay away. He doesn't.
Zach discovers that Hannah's dad is Stine and the author has locked copies of all his books. When one accidentally is opened, the Abominable Snowman chases Zach, Hannah and Champ (Ryan Lee), the traditional goofy nerd who Stine loves to add to his stories.
More books are opened and the group must find a way to trap all the creatures or die trying.
Director Rob Letterman finds the right tempo of terror for the ghoulish attacks. A werewolf battle in a supermarket has as many comic turns as scares. The same goes for all the other creatures, including a cemetery filled with zombies.
The scariest creature is Slappy, a talking ventriloquist dummy voiced by Black. He provides a darkness to the story that lifts up the creepiness levels.
"Goosebumps" is as much fun as it is creepy. It can't survive under the harsh scrutiny of horror film experts, but it is mildly chilling enough to scare youngsters and entertaining enough for adults.