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Goosebumps (2015)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/26/2015

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/21/2016

Every once in a while, someone will ask me why I love horror movies. While I don't think that there's an easy answer to that question ("Because they rule!" does not suffice.), I truly believe that it can be traced back to the fact that Scooby-Doo Where Are You! was one of first television shows that I loved. While it may seem quite tame to adult eyes, that show was pretty creepy for its time and I believe that it planted the seed for my love of all things scary. My point here is that children are naturally drawn to scary things. Being scared is both fun and exhilarating for children, and it can be a natural rite of passage. This helps to explain the popularity of the Goosebumps series of books, which have sold hundreds of millions of copies. And it also serves to show why the movie Goosebumps should appeal to youngsters.

Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother, Gale (Amy Ryan), have just moved to the small town of Madison, Delaware. Not only is Zach sad about the move, heís also not crazy about the fact that Gale will be the assistant principal at his high school. Zach is intrigued by the girl next door, Hannah (Odeya Rush), but heís scared off by her father, Mr. Shiver (Jack Black). After hearing some screaming coming from his neighbors, Zach becomes convinced that Hannah is being held prisoner, so, with the assistance of his new friend, Champ (Ryan Lee), Zach breaks into the house next door to get some answers. The two boys find a bookshelf lined with books which share titles with the Goosebumps books. The weird thing is, all of the books are padlocked. One accidentally comes open and releases The Abominable Snowman. Hannah arrives just in time to explain to Zach and Champ that Mr. Shiver is actually Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine and all of his creations are locked inside of the books. Unfortunately, vengeful ventriloquist dummy Slappy (voiced by Jack Black) escapes from his book and creates an army of monsters in order to get back at Stine for trapping them all. Now, Zach, Champ, Hannah, and Stine must race to save the town.

Goosebumps is that rare movie that is exactly what it needs to be. This is a scary movie which is aimed squarely at a younger audience, say between 8-13. It contains monsters, car chases, and jump scares. The monsters, which are all taken from Goosebumps books, range from small garden gnomes to a giant praying mantis and every size in between. There is no blood here and very little violence. The werewolf monster certainly comes across as menacing and Slappy is decidedly creepy, but the movie never crosses into being ďscaryĒ on a cruel level. To even eat the horror aspects of the script, we get some comic relief from Stine and Champ, a sense of whimsy from Hannah, and flat-out laughs from two bumbling police officers (Amanda Lund and Timothy Simons). The humor here does a good job of shying away from the usually potty humor which we get from kids movies. I donít know if the intention was to make ďGhostbusters LiteĒ, but that is how the film plays.

Again, the movie was made for youngsters and the target audience was presumably fans of the books (although, one could argue that the movie arrives about a decade too late if that is the case), but there are some things here for adults. I donít think that anyone would deny the fact that some of the monsters here were inspired by classic movie creatures and itís fun spotting the references. Jack Black appears to be in another movie at times and watching his character have a meltdown as his creations attack the town is funny. The movie implies that R.L. Stine has a running beef with Stephen King and this leads to a very funny moment when the group arrives at the local high school which will most likely sail over the heads of kids in the audience.

Goosebumps is far from a perfect film (a lot of character development is dumped in the first act and we never learn why the typewriter is where it is), but itís very good at what it set out to do. The special effects are top-notch, Director Rob Letterman keeps things moving along at a nice pace, there are several funny moments, and Iím sure that some kids will find it scary. Having never read a Goosebumps book, I canít say how the movie stacks up to the books, but itís clear that the film is attempting to capture the spirit of the books, as opposed to being a straight adaptation. So, if you know a youngster who is jonesing for a scary good time, check out Goosebumps with them.

Goosebumps also never explains where Slappy learned how to drive on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The bulk of the film takes place at night and the action is always clear and visible. The level of detail is very impressive and the depth looks great. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio is just as good as the video, as we are treated to highly detailed stereo and surround effects, which show great separation and highlight sounds coming from off-screen. The subwoofer is wall-shaking and certainly doesnít sound like something which isnít supposed to be scary.

The Goosebumps Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. The Disc contains seven DELETED SCENES which run about 13 minutes. We get more Zach at school characters set up scenes here, as well as an "Alternate Ending", which I can almost guarantee was tweaked because test audiences weren't happy. We also get an "Alternate Opening" (3 minutes) which shows Stine's belonging being moved and would have given away too much too early. "All About Slappy" (5 minutes) focuses on the dummy and has Stine discussing the character. From there, we see how the version for the movie was created and manipulated. "Beginner's Guide to Surviving a Goosebumps Creature" (6 minutes) has Zach and Champ essentially narrating scenes from the movie -- this feels very much like a promo piece. "Strange Things are Happening...On-Set" (4 minutes) is a fake video diary showing "supernatural" things which happened while filming. "Creaturefied!" (9 minutes) has special effects makeup artists demonstrating makeup projects which viewers can make at home. "Cast Screen Test Gallery" (7 minutes) shows Black, Minnette, and Rush trying out there characters. The final extra is a 3-minute BLOOPER REEL.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long