As a child, Goosebumps books were probably my first instance of reading for pleasure. Alone in my bedroom, they were fun trope-heavy horror rags, but at school they were the new trend; the new currency. We would trade them based on the value of their content, whilst stand-out covers were also highly prized. They were Harry Potter and Pokemon cards rolled into one. But now, I don’t know if I could recall the plot to a single one.
Entering into a crowded market of YA based horror adaptations – Cirque du Freak (2009) never got its sequel despite John C. Reilly and Willem Dafoe holding major roles, His Mortal Instruments suffered the same fate, and Vampire Academy barely seemed to try – Sony Entertainment‘s Goosebumps has taken a new direction with its potential franchise.
From the trailer, it seems director, Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Gulliver’s Travels), will offer us a comedy heavy meta-horror, much in the vein of Drew Goddard‘s satirical Cabin in the Woods (2012), but aimed at a younger audience. Read the official synopsis below:
“Upset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door. But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series.
It turns out that there is a reason why Stine is so strange… he is a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. When Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town, it’s suddenly up to Stine, Zach, and Hannah to get all of them back in the books where they belong“.
Even in this brief glimpse of the film, we see a plethora of nightmarish creations from novels; the Abominable Snowman, hoards of zombies, a garden’s worth of psychotic gnomes. In stills we have seen the iconic puppet Slappy from Night of the Living Dummy, who will feature as the film’s main antagonist.
Goosebumps definitely has a lot going for it; a heap of myth and character to draw on, a strong cast lead by Jack Black, and Sony set aside a hefty budget for the CG heavy movie. Let’s hope the writing is sharp, the nostalgia holds up, and the tropes get thoroughly subverted. I’d like to remember the plot to this one at least. Goosebumps will show in cinemas February 5, 2016. See the trailer below: