Zach has only just moved into his new home with his mother when their creepy neighbour, Mr Shivers, warns him to stay away from him and his daughter, Hannah. When Zach and new friend, Champ, sneak into the Shivers’ home, they inadvertently open some locked ‘Goosebumps’ books which allows the monsters within to escape. With the monsters determined to stay outside of their prisons, they attack the population of the town and now Zach, Champ, Hannah and Mr Shivers must figure out how to send the monsters back into their books.

Goosebumps (2016) – Director: Rob Letterman

Is Goosebumps appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 103 mins

Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush

Genre: Comedy, Horror

REVIEW

Based on the kids’ horror books of the same name by R. L. Stine, ‘Goosebumps’ has finally come to the big screen with much anticipation from hardcore fans of the series. While there has been a TV series, a big screen adaptation was always going to garner plenty of hype, especially so long after ‘Goosebumps’ was in its heyday.

Sadly, the movie itself has not lived up to the expectation. The movie takes a while to pick up any pace with lead character Zach (played by Dylan Minnette) having an underwhelming personality the first twenty or so minutes are very dull. The movie suffers from having very little actual plot; the director’s attitude of ‘throw more monsters into the mix’ doesn’t work, especially as most of the monsters that are particularly focused on are mindless beasts (a yeti, a werewolf, a giant insect) that just rampage their way through the town where more intelligent (and therefore more interesting) monsters barely get any screen time. The exception to this is the scary antagonist ‘Slappy’, a highly intelligent ventriloquist’s dummy that organises the monsters like a general; more characters like this would have made the monsters more relatable and less animal-like.

With a confused tone of light-hearted comedy and sometimes too-scary horror, ‘Goosebumps’ struggles to get the balance right for its primary audience although with plenty of daft humour and lots of action, it is bound to be a hit with many kids, even if the adults aren’t quite so keen.

IS ‘GOOSEBUMPS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

There are numerous examples of frights in this movie but in order to avoid listing every single moment which would inevitably lead to spoilers, we have highlighted the stronger moments as children who are ok with them should be ok with the rest of the movie.

There are lots of suspenseful moments leading to ‘jump’ scares, much of these only last a few seconds but could be a little intense for some younger kids. In one, a character walks around a dark room, a dark figure is seen behind them and a hand reaches to the character’s shoulder, when they are touched, they spin around and cry out in fear. This moment lasts around twenty seconds.

A character describes himself as an ‘audiophile’ – someone who is enthusiastic about sound recordings. Another character misunderstands this and the meaning of the word has to be explained to her when she becomes angry, attempting to attack the character. While this is ambiguous and unlikely to be understood by kids, it is clear to adults that the woman believes that the man has admitted to being a paedophile and as such a big deal is made of this without any clear explanation, kids may ask their parents what this means.

A book opens and a loud, menacing growl can be heard from within it. Suddenly a hand with sharp claws reaches out and grips the floor which is followed by a large, aggressive yeti. This creature attacks three teen characters who try to recapture it into the book. The yeti is very violent and attempts to kill them, this scene lasts for around ten minutes and although there are a few moments of light relief, it becomes quite intense and could be too scary for young children.

When a group of gnomes attack, their fixed expressions and sudden jerking movements are quite creepy. At one point, several gnomes look towards the protagonists and in unison, their heads jerk to one side; this type of effect is often used in more adult horror films (such as the ‘15’ rated ‘Insidious’); this could be quite frightening for a lot of kids.

The character of ‘Slappy’, the evil ventriloquist’s dummy is a major feature of many of the more scary scenes. He is very intelligent and is able to appear and disappear suddenly to the point where the other characters are often unsure of where he is, usually forcing them to search for him in darkened rooms. His eyes become intense and angry which makes his fixed, grinning expression extra creepy and he often laughs or cackles in a menacing way; at one point his head slowly turns all the way round. One scene is in a hall of mirrors, Slappy is particularly angry and makes menacing threats to characters who are unsure of where he actually is although every way they turn, they are suddenly faced with an image of him.

Some characters sit on a Ferris wheel which becomes unfixed from its foundations and rolls away. This part lasts for around a minute and as the wheel moves so fast, the terror and intensity is strong, especially as the shots are mostly close-ups so it feels as though the audience is experiencing this along with the characters.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

As a kids’ horror film, there are plenty of scary moments in ‘Goosebumps’ but with lots of comedy, the darkness of the tone is lightened enough so that it can still be targeted towards children. Due to lots of continuous scares and some intense scenes, we feel this movie is suitable for kids aged 7 and over but recommend caution for kids who are sensitive to horror and frights.

  • Violence: 3/5 (characters are attacked by numerous villains, some are aggressive beasts and others attack with weapons. An incidental teen character is dragged out of a window, screaming. Until the very end of the movie, it is unclear as to whether this character has been killed)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (A character is forced to sacrifice themselves for their loved ones, they accept their fate but their loved ones struggle to let go)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (Two characters sneak into someone’s house and hear bumps in a room upstairs. When they find the room, it is in darkness and something moves around in the shadows near them)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (when talking about a school dance, the head teacher informs the students that ‘if anyone is found dancing with their butts facing their partner, they will be sent home immediately’. There is some teen kissing and a reference to ‘twerking’)
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (a character warns another to stay away from their home with various threats including ‘something very bad will happen’ and ‘the last scream you hear will be your own’. Two characters say ‘that kid’s on drugs’)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of taking responsibility for one’s actions, the effects of bullying, self-sacrifice, having the courage to fight against a stronger foe, intellect being as important as strength and not giving up despite being outnumbered.

Words by Laura Record

Goosebumps – Blu-ray 3D [2016]


New From: £5.64 GBP In Stock

Related Posts

Share this review!Share on Facebook1Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Tumblr0Pin on Pinterest0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Digg thisEmail this to someone