It feels like fucking ages since my last old fashioned Monday film review. I’ve gotten so used to letting off steam in a rant every week that I’ve moved beyond the point of this blog at all. Change is all well and good obviously but this was my chance to play out my long dead desire to be a film critic. It’s just a really sad fact that I don’t get chance to see as many films at the moment. I need to catch up with things. It’s always the way though: one thing starts going well whilst everything else suffers. Reading or films? Surely there are people out there who find the balance? Until I find the dream solution I’ll count the victories where I can. Last month I managed to watch a film that I’d been excited about for a while. A film that summons up feelings of my childhood… although without the fear I experienced in those days.
Apparently, the Goosebumps series of books has sold over 350 millions books worldwide and has been translated into 32 languages. Despite being written between 1992 and 1997, the series is still one of the best selling series of fiction for the 7-11 year old market. I guess this goes someway towards explaining why it’s taken until 2015 for the books to make it to the big screen. The original fans are now about my age and only a handful will go and see it out of some weird nostalgia. Still, better late than never. Of course, with so much source material to chose between, it begs the question “how do you pick which story to turn into a film?” The obvious answer: you don’t. Instead Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski created a story about a fictitious version of author R.L. Stine who hides a terrible secret in his cobwebbed mansion. It’s a little bit weird but it’s not the most ridiculous plot we’ve ever heard.
When Zach (Dylan Minette) and his mother move to a new town, he could never expect that he’s living next door to the famous author. R.L. Stine has become something of a hermit and has locked his daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush), away from the world. Obviously, Zach and Hannah quickly fall for each other and, despite her father forbidding contact, they meet in secret whenever they can. Fearing Hannah is being held prisoner Zach and his geeky friend, Champ (Ryan Lee), break into Stine’s house and discover his biggest secret.
Stine has been keeping his spooky creations locked up in manuscripts to prevent them coming to life and causing chaos in the real world. Not too surprisingly, Zach unwittingly unleashes one of these monsters and sets off a chain of events that leaves his new town in great danger. Not wanting to pick just one eponymous Goosebumps monster to scare modern audiences screenwriter Darren Lemke unleashes all of them. It’s a relentless chase that won’t give you many chances to collect your thoughts.
There’s very little subtlety here but, for it’s intended audience, it will certainly fit the bill. The monsters are frequent and the action never-ending. For the older audience members, it’s incredibly cliched and the characters are lost in a frantic computer world. The time there are given to make connections shows some depth but that just makes it more of a shame that it’s so fucking rare.
Although, there is something about Goosebumps that works. It has the feel of a classic B movie but with a fuck-ton of CGI thrown into the mix. Some would say too much CGI but, when you look at the 90’s TV show, it’s probably for the best. The premise is a good one and celebrates the books in a better way than a traditional Goosebumps tale might have done. It shows the power of books and the importance of imagination and storytelling. If nothing else, it might inspire a new generation to embrace Stine or their own creativity.