I'm a freelance writer living on the Sunshine Coast.
Published January 18th 2016
Scary Beasts Abound
The Goosebumps movie was a hit with my family. Unfortunately it was a little too scary for my six year old who covered his face with his hoodie during the scary scenes. On the other hand, my 9 year old LOVED it, and my 11 yr old thought it was "good." So I think the movie will appeal to most kids (even if they aren't fans of the Goosebumps books), as it cleverly intertwines comedy, romance, and horror genres to create a very enjoyable, albeit at times 'corny', movie. Let's just say that if you liked Inkheart (2008) , then you will enjoy Goosebumps, as the two movies are similar.
The movie begins with Zac Cooper and his mum moving to Madison, Delaware. Zac's mum is the new vice principal at the local high school. At her first school assembly you hear the obligatory fart joke which is hilarious. Zac has the usual teen insecurities and doesn't want to be seen walking to school with his mum. An overzealous boy called Champ introduces himself to Zac and they become friends. Zac also becomes friends with Hannah,the girl next door, against her father's wishes. He finds out she is home schooled and doesn't know her mother. Zac tells Hannah about how his own dad died the year before.
There are a couple of incidents that are disturbing in the film - like when Zac breaks into Hannah's house (in an attempt to rescue her) and then later on they make a bomb at school (to destroy the creatures on the school bus). Considering how many times kids do this in the virtual world of gaming, I suppose they won't find it disturbing at all! But as a parent, you have to wonder why...
Champ reminds the audience that kids read Goosebumps not to fall asleep but to "keep you up all night". The suggestion is that certain books have power. Accidently opening one of the locked books in Hannah's house brings the first of many terrifying monsters to life. The combination of high suspense and comedy is very entertaining and often the height of terror is diffused by a humorous and serendipitous incident.
The themes of entrapment vs freedom and imagination vs reality are evident throughout the film. The monsters are trapped in the books and Hannah is trapped at home. The monsters find a way to get out of the books and even Hannah sneaks out of her house at night. Hannah's dad admits to hating the outside world so much, he created the monsters as his revenge trapping himself inside to write his books.
By the end of the movie Zac no longer has any teenage insecurities and it looks like another happy ending ... and then there's the twist! But you will have to watch it to find out what happens. A great film for the whole family (especially Goosebumps fans!).