Sunday, 6 December 2015

Film Review: "Goosebumps" (2015).

From the trailer, Stine warns us "All the monsters I've ever created are locked inside these books. But when they open..." You get Goosebumps. This horror comedy film based on the children's book series of the same name by R. L. Stine. It was directed by Rob Letterman, and written by Darren Lemke, from a story by Scott Alexander and Larry Kraszewski. A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer's imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.

The first attempt at a Goosebumps film goes back to 1998, when Tim Burton was originally attached to produce and direct. During the 1990s, George A. Romero was hired to adapt the book series into a single film and even finished a draft. However, both films did not materialize since they could not find a script they liked or determine which book or monster to adapt. In 2008, Columbia Pictures acquired rights to create a Goosebumps film. Neal Moritz and Deborah Forte were chosen to produce the film. Later Scott Alexander and Larry Kraszewski, the screenwriting team behind Ed Wood (1994) and Big Eyes (2014), were hired to pen the script. The duo decided against adapting any one book in the series, feeling the individual books in the series were too short. Thinking of ways to create a universe where all the creatures in the books could live together, they elected to do a fake biographical film where R. L. Stine writes a book and the monsters within it become real. In January 2012, it was reported that a new draft of the screenplay would be written by Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After (2010) and Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)). In November 2012, Stine expressed pessimism about the prospect of the film, saying that he would believe that a film can be based on his Goosebumps series when he sees it. When it came to casting the monsters, some monsters were cut for budgetary reasons, but director Letterman stated that the crew tried to choose the monsters most appropriate to the story. Letterman also stated that he tried to combine both humour and horror in the film, commenting that "[t]he books themselves are legitimately scary, but they’re legitimately funny, and we try to capture that."

The film stars Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee, Jillian Bell, and Halston Sage. The cast gave entertaining performances despite being filled with cliches and predictability. However, the most important element they struggled to capture was the childlike horror-driven characterisations from Stine's books.

Goosebumps is not only fun, but also a sly series of send-ups, effectively parodying many elemental film storylines. The film follows a great tradition of horror comedies full of sick jokes. A wild roller-coaster ride of hilarious mischief. However, the human characters are little more than camp for the mechanics. In addition, the film is not as idiosyncratic and peculiar as the books. Nonetheless, the film tries very hard in reproducing the scare level that comes from reading Stine's books. It's a good movie.

Simon says Goosebumps receives:

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