‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’ Forgets to Frighten the Audience

courtesy of rottentomatoes.com

courtesy of rottentomatoes.com

Nicole Casal, Entertainment Editor

When reminiscing on the first books that introduced 90’s children to novels, R.L Stine’s “Goosebumps” series is at the top of the list. “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” premiered on Oct. 12. The plot follows two friends, Sonny and Sam, who uncover an unpublished Stine book and a diabolical talking ventriloquist doll named Slappy. Slappy comes to life once the locked manuscript is opened and a spell is recited. Slappy’s only goal is to find a family. However, his desperation for a maternal figure leads him to cast his wrath on the fictional town of Wardenclyffe, New York. 

The major faults this film has are the dialogue and the lack of horror. While the dialogue gets the job done to keep to story going, there is a lack of authenticity. Most conversations between characters and ghouls seem awkward and forced. People seem to digress into lengthy monologues while trying to fight off mutant gummy bears or giant balloon spiders.

Arguably the largest flaw with the movie is the lack of scares. For millennials that grew up on Stine’s books, the “Goosebumps” series was something kids stayed up reading past their bedtime, unbeknownst to their parents. “Goosebumps” books had the reputation of multiple prepubescent nightmares, while the movie seems like a watered down version. Although the movie is rated PG, there could have been more traditional gore and horror that made Stine the renowned author that he is. 

Thankfully, the acting in this movie redeems its other faults. The main character, Sonny, is played by Jeremy Ray Taylor, who known for his impeccable performance in the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s “It.” Taylor is an up and coming actor to keep your eye on. Whether he continues an acting career in horror or transitions to another genre as he matures, Taylor will be making headlines for years to come. 

Aside from Taylor’s performance, the film also had a clever nod at King’s “It” with a floating red balloon over a gutter mid climax. This allusion might be wishful thinking on behalf of the director, Ari Sandel, to hope to mimic the 2017 remake’s success. Additionally, Jack Black had a lighthearted cameo as Stine and brings his infamous comedic relief.

The film also excelled at its computer-generated imagery. A majority of the monsters and witches were CGI. However, the blend between real-life actors interacting with superimposed ghouls was seamless. There is a scene where Slappy is magically bringing all the Halloween costumes at the local pharmacy to life. Watching these deflated werewolf and Frankenstein masks come to life brought in the eerie factor that the other scenes lacked.

While former “Goosebumps” fans have graduated to more advanced horror writers, “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” fails to bring back nostalgic memories of childhood fears.