I was a big fan of the first Goosebumps film but do we need to do it all again?
Synopsis: Halloween comes to life in a brand-new comedy adventure based on R.L. Stine’s 400-million-selling series of books. (Sony Pictures)
Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, and Jeremy Ray Taylor
Writer: Rob Lieber
Director: Ari Sandel
Rating: PG (Canada/United States)
Running Time: 90mins
When this movie was announced, one can’t help but wonder the point of it. It should also come as no surprise that this series, based on the popular children’s horror book series of the same name by R.L. Stine, has no intention of ending anytime soon. This new film, a sequel to 2015’s Goosebumps, fails to justify its existence though provides some of the same fun and charm from the original. Haunted Halloween provides the same fun and charm from the original by being pretty much the same film, more or less, than the original. Those who have seen the first film or any of the trailers of this film pretty much know the story for this one.
For those who haven’t done either, a pair of unwitting friends named Sonny (Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) open a mysterious early manuscript of R.L. Stine (Jack Black) that would bring his many creations to life including his infamous magical dummy Slappy (Mick Wingert). The problem with that was that the story as a whole took far too long before it ever got going, choosing to dwell on the cliche and arguably irrelevant subplots around the film’s characters. Sonny and Cam were aspiring entrepreneurs who were also bullied at school. Sonny’s sister Sarah (Iseman) needed the right confidence booster before heading to College. Sonny and Sarah’s mother Kathy (McLendon-Covey) was the cliche parent character.
Once the story finally got started, all the characters’ subplots didn’t matter. At the end of the day, this is a children’s film so its lame story, uninteresting characters, and mediocre humor will appeal more to children. They story may be a rehash of the first film but there were still a few fun moments to be had. However, some older viewers will surely struggle to maintain interest here, especially non-fans of the Goosebumps book series. Until Slappy finally took over, the film was mostly on the dull side because of its dull characters and cliche subplots. Though the film was derivative and very predictable (you can figure everything out after the first scene), it was still fun to watch with many bits from the first film working more often than not. The many Halloween creatures in the film were more inventive this time around, however, the film barely spent nearly enough time with them.
Slappy is a great character and he was by far the best part of the film, watching him chew up the scenery as the film’s villain. It is kind of ironic that a dummy would show more personality than the human characters though some will just find his dialog cheesy and the writing contrived. Second to him would be Stine but many will surely be disappointed by the use of the character in the film, giving what was a glorified cameo. In fact, the real R.L. Stine makes a cameo in the film as well. Fortunately or not, those wanting more of Stine need not look further since the film sets up the possibility of more Goosebump films. However, whether or not they will be made remains to be seen. In terms of everybody else, they were okay for the most part but this was mostly due to the writing than anything else.
Overall, this was a decent sequel that is derivative of the first while taking far too long to get going, maintaining most of the charm from the original, though this time with a far less interesting story and characters than the original. It will appeal mostly to the kids which may alienate some older viewers but diehard Goosebumps fans should also find plenty to enjoy here. Either way, it is definitely not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.