Blu-Ray Review: Goosebumps
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Street Date: January 26th 2016
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio, Dolby Atmos True HD 7.1 Audio
Runtime: 103 Minutes
I was 9 years old in 1992 when R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series first came onto the scene. To a Third Grader, the books represented the “holy grail” of school library rentals. From Welcome to Dead House to Monster Blood and Night of the Living Dummy to One Day at Horrorland, my fellow students seemed to be in a race against time to devour each new title in the series. Come conference time when the Scholastic Book Fair arrived with the brand new titles, it was the equivalent of “Black Friday” among elementary-aged children as we trampled each other to be the first to get our paws on R.L. Stine’s next haunting adventure.
Fast forward to 2015, and Director Rob Letterman has transported Stine’s unique children’s book series to the big screen! In the film, Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his Mom (Amy Ryan) move to a new house in a new city as a “fresh start” following the death of Zach’s father. Zach misses his Dad terribly, watching old videos of the two of them playing catch in secret, not wanting to burden his still grieving mother with his emotions. Fortunately for Zach, they’ve moved directly next door to the cute and spunky Hannah (Odeya Rush), whose adventurous charm seems to lift his spirits. Unfortunately or Zach, her father is the reclusive and paternally protective author R.L. Stine (Jack Black), who wants to keep Hannah far away from anything or anyone that could compromise their peaceful life. When Zach wanders into the Stine residence with his goofy buddy Champ (Ryan Lee) to investigate some mysterious happenings, he inadvertently unlocks all of Stine’s literary monsters from the manuscripts, unleashing terror upon the town. Now it’s up to Stine, Zach, Hannah, and Champ to save the day.
I watched Goosebumps with my children, who absolutely delighted at its kid-friendly spookiness. From that perspective, I enjoyed the film for exactly the same reason; it’s an enjoyable family movie that pays tribute to the beloved book series in a fun way. On the other hand, as an adult who wanted a bit more from the experience (given my nostalgic love for the original books), the filmmakers certainly overloaded the film with far too many of Stine’s monstrous creations to spend any significant time for viewers to enjoy each one. Slappy from Night of the Living Dummy is given the most screen time here, but outside of the Abominable Snowman, we’re only given glimpses at other beloved creatures and ghouls. The special effects are certainly lacking, but I would venture to guess that the filmmakers wanted to avoid more practical effects that may seem scarier to young children. The CGI creations in the final film are therefore quite cartoonish, which is just fine for the target audience. The film does do a fine, if not cliché job, of spending the first half hour allowing us to get to know the human protagonists and their backstories enough to care about them. Overall, Goosebumps offers up enough family friendly spooks and silliness to recommend.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has given Goosebumps a fine high definition video presentation. Black levels are solid, detail is crisp and clear, and even the sometimes mediocre special effects look as good as they did in the theater. There are no visual hiccups, anomalies, or other disappointments to report. Fantastic job!
The true crowning achievement of this disc is the Dolby Atmos 7.1 True HD audio presentation! This fantastic track completely enveloped us in the film, providing ridiculously clear sound effects, score, and a handful of great “boo” moments that made my kids jump with delight. The Atmos mix is downright perfect for the film, and is the standout aspect of this Blu-Ray release.
Fans of the film (and book series) will appreciate the handful of bonus content offered up here by Sony. There’s an alternate opening and ending (both remain content on the cutting room floor), deleted scenes, a cute blooper reel, a Slappy the dummy featurette, the “Beginner’s Guide to Surviving a Goosebumps Creature”, and much more.
The artwork on this Blu-Ray release is a slightly different alternative to the original theatrical poster design. The slipcover looks great, and though I haven’t seen the 3D lenticular in-hand, that would likely be the way to go if the price point is right. The back of the case includes a plot synopsis, list of bonus materials, and technical specifications. Inside of the case you’ll find the Blu-Ray disc, a DVD, an Ultraviolet Digital Copy code insert, and various coupons (Shutterly, Sony bargains, etc.).
I watched Goosebumps with my children, who absolutely delighted at its kid-friendly spookiness. From that perspective, I enjoyed the film for exactly the same reason; it’s an enjoyable family movie that pays tribute to the beloved book series in a fun way. On the other hand, given my nostalgic love for the original books, the filmmakers certainly overloaded the film with far too many of Stine’s monstrous creations to spend any significant time for viewers to enjoy each one. But don’t let that stop you from giving the film a chance. Overall, Goosebumps offers up enough family friendly spooks and silliness to recommend. The Blu-Ray edition from Sony Pictures provides fantastic video and audio quality, along with a handful of goofy bonus content. Goosebumps comes recommended, especially for the boys and ghouls.