It sticks to its guns and runs, flailing a ghost or a mummy behind it in the wind
Netflix has taken a huge step in turning young adult novels into works of absolute genius. A Series Of Unfortunate Events has captured the mood, tone and style of the books perfectly, transitioning them to the screen with the close watch of original author, Lemony Snicket, (or Daniel Handler for his real name). Goosebumps, with a low key success of a first film, has followed a similar vein keeping original novelist R.L.Stine in the conversation for the franchise’s stylistic choices. He even features in the film himself, and Jack Black plays a fabricated version of his personality.
However, the original tone of the books has been lost. These Goosebumps films are far more generic children’s films than they ought to be, and that leaves them languishing for story and any real familiarity.
Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is a smart kid with a love of science and adventure, but when he and his best friend Sam (Caleel Harris) find a ventriloquist dummy that comes to life in an abandoned house, their, and Sonny’s sister Sarah’s (Madison Iseman) Halloween, is turned upside down.
It would be easy to suggest that perhaps a series of anthology films would work as a substitute, but there is clearly a mainstream audience that the film is trying to tap into. It’s attempting to open up a franchise that has perhaps lost some of its gravitas in recent years.
The film itself is predictable in the way many children’s films are, with blatant foreshadowing and an often overly complicated journey to the finale; unsuspecting adults and a story with little actual plot. Although, for the style the franchise has chosen, it incorporates and references many of Stine’s greatest and well-known stories, acting as a small moment to reminisce and recognise for those already familiar with the characters.
It’s nothing if not persistent, and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is exactly that. It sticks to its guns and runs, flailing a ghost or a mummy behind it in the wind. It’s script is terrible, and the jokes the ventriloquist dummy cracks aren’t even quips (it’s difficult to work out why he laughs at his own jokes so much), but on the whole, it does the job. Expect a third one.
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