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Goosebumps' Presents Perfect Family-Friendly Movie Night for Halloween
Jack Black seen at Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation World Premiere of 'Goosebumps' at Regency Village Theatre on Sunday, October 4, 2015, in Westwood, CA. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony Pictures/AP Images)

Goosebumps' Presents Perfect Family-Friendly Movie Night for Halloween

"Goosebumps" is the feature film adaptation of the children's chapter book series by R.L. Stine, but will you leave the theater with goosebumps or will the movie fall flat?

**The following is an in-depth review of “Goosebumps” and does contain spoilers.**

When discussing a film like "Goosebumps," you really have to take into account who the target audience for a movie like this is. "Goosebumps" is aimed at young children, and parents who were fans of the book series during its original publication in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.

Starring Jack Black as R.L. Stine, author of the original Goosebumps books, the movie sometimes comes off as more of a parody than an adaptation.

Jack Black seen at Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation World Premiere of 'Goosebumps' at Regency Village Theatre on Sunday, October 4, 2015, in Westwood, CA. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony Pictures/AP Images)

Zach Cooper is a new kid in school, having just moved to the small town of Madison, Delaware when his mother was hired as Madison High School's new vice principal. With the challenges of being a new kid - especially the son of the vice principal - Zach isn't a big fan of Madison, until he meets his beautiful teenage neighbor Hannah.

Hannah is mysterious, and she seems to have an overbearing father who doesn't let her go near the windows. Hannah's father - who is later revealed to be R.L. Stine - warns Zach to stay on his side of the fence and leave his daughter alone. After seeing something disturbing from his bedroom window, Zach begins to think Hannah's father is abusive and calls the police.

The police find nothing suspicious about Hannah's father - who has said that Hannah left to go stay with her mother in London - and they soon leave. Not buying it, Zach and his friend Champ break in to Hannah's house to find her.

Inside the house Zach and Champ stumble on a bookshelf containing the original manuscripts of all the Goosebumps books. The books are locked, and that gets their curiosity up. Pulling the manuscript for "The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena" off the shelf, they find the key on a desk next to the bookshelf and unlock it.

In an explosion of light, the real abominable snowman from the book appears in the living room. After it tears apart Hannah's house, it makes its way outside and continues to wreak havoc on the town. During the commotion, Hannah comes downstairs and explains to Zach and Champ what happened and that they have to put the monster back in the book.

As the kids race off to catch the monster, they don't notice that another book was knocked off the shelf and the latch had come open. It is later revealed that this book is "Night of the Living Dummy." Slappy, the titular living dummy, devises a plan to free all of the monsters from every Goosebumps story and take over the world after killing their creator.

The way the book magically comes open to release Slappy is pretty contrived. The lock is never actually shown to be broken, the book just pops open after being knocked off the shelf. Obviously, this was necessary to move the plot along, but the plot could have been better served by showing the abominable snowman step on the book or otherwise cause the lock to break. As it is, it pops open just because and the audience is expected to accept that.

"Goosebumps" also employs a lot of horror movie cliches. In one scene, Hannah is taking Zach through the woods and she disappears behind a tree. While Zach is wondering where she has gone and as ominous music plays in the background, a bird flies out and startles the teenager. An adult audience, however, simply finds the scene laughable because of its tiredness.

That's where remembering the target audience comes in. To the kids who are seeing this movie, those tropes aren't old hat. They're new. They haven't yet read their first Stephen King novel or seen their first "Twilight Zone" episode. To them, the tales of the Cryptkeeper are still several years away, and they have not yet ventured to the farthest reaches of the "Outer Limits."

"Goosebumps" succeeds where it is meant to: it introduces a new generation of kids to the realm of the horrific, and it does it in the best way possible. "Goosebumps" mixes in just enough scary to get kids interested in monster stories, while providing a well spring of humor to break any tension the small scares might build in their little minds.

"Goosebumps" does watch a little more like "Jumanji" or "Night at the Museum" than an actual Goosebumps story, but that just comes with the cinematic format. "Goosebumps" also makes excessive use of the O. Henry Ending, which again might seem cliche to most parents but is something mostly brand new to the youngest members of the audience. The twist is also a staple of the Goosebumps books, so its extensive use in the film could also be seen as the movie poking a little fun at its source material.

Slappy does make for a fairly diabolical villain, burning the manuscripts after he opens them to prevent the heroes from sending the monsters back. Jack Black also provides the voice of Slappy for the film, doing a surprisingly accurate impression of the voice John Kassir used for the Cryptkeeper.

While adults may groan at some of the more campy aspects of the film, there is still plenty for them to enjoy. Children, of course, will be enthralled by the entire film. As the books were before it, "Goosebumps" is a wonderful introduction to scary stories for your little ones and it's the perfect family night out for the Halloween season.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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