Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Review: A Frightfully Fun Family Film
Three years later, we finally get the second installment of Goosebumps. This time, we’ve found ourselves in Wardenclyffe, NY where two friends, Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris), are searching in an old abandoned house in hopes of finding something valuable for their business, The Junk Brothers. During their search, they come across a chest locked behind a false fireplace wall. Inside is a locked book, which they open, and our good old friend, Slappy appears. They decide to bring Slappy along with the other things they’ve salvaged and head home. Once at home, Slappy begins to show his true colors and the boys, along with Sonny’s sister, Sarah (Madison Iseman), must stop his evil plan to bring Halloween and all its ghouls and goblins alive for good.
What Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween does so well is it balances out the humor in the story as well as keeping with the creepy and crawly feeling of the original R.L. Stine stories. Having veteran comedy actors such as Wendi McLendon-Covey as their mother, Ken Jeong as their neighbor and Jack Black as Slappy and R.L. Stine set a solid comedic base for the film and allows for the creepiness and spooky nature of the stories to shine. The actors they have for the kids, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, and Madison Iseman are perfectly cast and have spectacular chemistry together. They can carry the humor and absurdity of the story with ease and make the whole story come to life. Jack Black, as both Slappy and R.L. Stine, continues to prove that he is becoming the master of the family-friendly film.
The animation and design of the film are of the utmost importance. Taking a series that has over 400 million books in print is a daunting task. Goosebumps and R.L. Stine had such a defining influence on a whole generation of children, so bringing that to life is no easy task. Bringing that to life a second time without making it tired or campy, is another challenge all in itself. Director Ari Sandel and writers Rob Lieber and Darren Lemke do it with such precision and craft.
Each of the ghouls or creatures are more terrifying than the next. The design of each character is carefully created, and they look so spectacular on film. Watching the masks come to live and grow bodies is something that will never let me look at costumes the same again. The witches in the story are horrifying but such an awesome look. Slappy continues to frighten audiences all over again. He is back, and he is even creepier than before with plenty of jump scares. While I will say there are a few minor scenes where the CGI isn’t as spectacular with his character, overall, it the effects are great.
Not only are the costumes and creatures incredible, but the background of the film brings Halloween to life. Their neighbor, played by Ken Jeong goes all out for the holiday and decks his house to celebrate. There is a huge spider made of balloons, mummies and coffins all over his yard, and his ever-changing costumes. This level of excitement and enthusiasm for Halloween only enriches the setting of the story for our characters.
While I do think the film may be a bit scary for children under the age of eight or so, it is certainly a great family film. This is the Halloween film for the family trip to the movies, filled with fun, fantasy, ghosts and ghouls, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween will bring smiles to your face and delight audiences from the youngest R.L. Stine fan to the oldest. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween delivers the goods, and leaves you with a renewed love for Halloween.