Goosebumps | Film review - Things go bump when RL Stine's monsters are let loose

Goosebumps Odeya Rush Ryan Lee Dylan Minnette Jack Black.jpg
(Image credit: Hopper Stone, SMPSP)

All the rage in the 1990s, best-selling author RL Stine’s Goosebumps series of spooky tales for kids finally gets the big-screen treatment – and the result is a goofily entertaining horror romp full of tween-friendly chuckles and scares.

It takes a while, however, for the film to find its groove. At first, we’re in blandly generic teen-movie territory with sulky teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette) moving to small-town Delaware with his single parent mom (Amy Ryan) and striking up a friendship with Hannah the pretty girl next door (Odeya Rush), instantly vexing her fiercely over-protective dad Mr Shivers (Jack Black).

Goosebumps Jack Black.jpg

(Image credit: Hopper Stone, SMPSP)

So far so blah. But things get far more engaging when Zach and his daffy buck-toothed new pal Champ (Ryan Lee) discover that ‘Mr Shivers’ is actually author RL Stine and accidentally unleash the real monsters locked inside his manuscripts.

The ensuing monster mash-up gives the film’s FX team a chance to really let rip. And it’s when they’re on the run from the rampaging creatures – including the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, the Werewolf of Fever Swamp, Slappy the malevolent ventriloquist’s dummy (voiced by Black) and a bunch of vicious garden gnomes – that the cast get into their stride, too, with Lee’s scaredy-cat sidekick and Black’s prickly writer providing the biggest laughs.

Certificate PG. Runtime 103 mins. Director Rob Letterman

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.