Movie Review: ‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’
Director: Ari Sandel
Cast: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Madison Iseman, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong, Mick Wingert, Jack Black
Plot: Two young boys find R.L. Stine’s unfinished first book and accidentally free haunted, evil ventriloquist doll Slappy. The evil puppet uses magic to bring Halloween costumes and decorations to life, spreading mayhem throughout the small town.
Review: The original Goosebumps film didn’t do much for me. It leaned very heavily on nostalgia for the book series (amid inconsistent logic), and I was just out of the target age group when they first appeared. I read a couple, and they’re fun, but were a but juvenile for my tastes at the time. By packing in every single monster they could into the film it didn’t leave much room for any creativity. As a result I didn’t expect much more from the sequel except a rehash of the first with all the same monsters and no Jack Black.
Actually, it was better. And it turns out Jack Black is in it, reprising the role of Stine but not Slappy. Instead it was down to Mick Wingert to recreate Jack Black’s take in the character. Turns out Wingert Jack Blacks for a living, as he voices Kung Fu Panda Po in spin-off media.
On the subject for Slappy, the evil dummy, it’s really weird that he plays such a prominent role in this. They already played this card (along with all the cards) in the first film and the only reason to bring him back into it is fan service. Slappy is a recurring villain in the books, but even fans must want to see something else. This isn’t even the same Slappy from the first film, he’s Slappy from a book that only exists in the movie. He’s also telekinetic and can bring anything he wan’t to life. I…didn’t read many of the books, but that’s not typical for this character, right?
Slappy being the main villain is a real bummer, but the rest of the monsters are surprisingly good. Once Slappy begins bringing everything else to life it gets more interesting. There’s the Goosebumps monster masks that turn into the monsters for fan service, but it’s the original creations that have the best and most creative design work. The witches are pretty unique, and the bedsheet ghosts zipping around are a lot of fun. The giant balloon spider was also very clever.
With a cast of likeable young cast members and nothing too scary it feels like a fun throwback to PG family movies of the 1980s such as The Goonies and Gremlins just…driven by brand marketing instead of creativity. This is a production with so little creativity to cast Ken Jeong as a creepy guy. There are some good laughs and charming moments but it either had too many rewrites or not enough because it is laden with plot holes.
Rating: FOUR out of TEN