The 271st review overall!
I was a slug today and for the first day of my post-vacation vacation, I’ll call that a win. Once Dear got home and we ate some dinner it was time to find a movie. President Baby was wide awake (he finally fell asleep just a few minutes ago) we had to pick something a little less intense. After a whole lot of scouring all the streaming sites, we landed on...
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018). Netflix.
For those of you who have been with me for awhile, you may remember I reviewed the first one, and in fact, I really liked it. It earned 8 Dr. Chainsaws! Goosebumps were the shit for me when I was younger. When I first learned to read I was introduced to those books because my older brothers had some, and let me tell you, I devoured those books. For years I would make sure I picked up the latest one, come home, isolate myself somewhere and just read them for hours. In grade school we had to write a letter to a celebrity and I wrote to Stine. I got a nice letter back dictated to his secretary and a polite refusal for an autograph picture, but I didn’t care, I got a letter from R.L. Stine. When I watched the first one, it was like being a kid again seeing all the monsters I remembered reading about. That and Jack Black hamming it up to perfection, it was such a fun ride watching that movie. The sequel, well it’s fine but it’s lacking in some major areas.
For starters, none of the cast is back. One of the dudes was busy shooting “13 Reasons Why” while Black was doing The House With a Clock in its Walls. Black does make what’s essentially an extended cameo, but it’s not enough. His overacted, crotchety R.L. Stine made the first movie so much fun. With a new cast comes a new story. Two friends, Sonny and Sam are starting a junk cleaning business. Their first job entails cleaning up a long abandoned home. After finding mostly junk in the scary house they come across a secret compartment and a box. After some creepy shenanigans, they accidentally bring the evil doll “Slappy” back to life. This time he’s trying to finish Stine’s first work, an unpublished story called, Haunted Halloween. He’s bringing back the Goosebumps monsters, but the majority of the enemies are just Halloween decorations brought to life. I understand sequels have to be bigger and that means more everything, but the Halloween decorations just aren’t the same. The dude has been churning out books for decades you don’t need skeletons and pumpkins!
The cast is good but I much preferred the original one. While they all had their strong points, it’s mainly because of Jack Black, this movie doesn’t work nearly as well without him. Plus, I really enjoyed his interactions with the nerdy kid. The way Black chews the scenery as the character is just a joy to watch. I love the inferiority complex Black’s R.L. Stine has with Stephen King. It was so funny in the first one to see him break into a rant about King at the drop of a hat despite being attacked by the monsters he created. This one did keep that joke running though in a pretty hilarious scene. Stine shows up to the town and the monsters have already taken over. He stops to take it all in and a single red balloon floats by him. He pauses for a second then exclaims, “I KNEW I had that idea first!” I legitimately laughed out loud.
Like I said earlier, the movie is fine. There’s nothing particularly “wrong“ with it, it’s entertaining and it clocks in at a brisk 90 minutes so it doesn’t wear out its welcome, and to its credit it did manage to introduce one standout character. Their neighbor, Mr. Chu (played by Ken Jeong) is great. He’s not in it much but the movie is better every second he’s on screen. He goes all out for the holiday and his yard is like Halloween Central. He manages to save the kids from certain death and it’s genuinely funny to see him fangirl about how they’re living an unfinished Goosebumps book. He doesn’t question it, he doesn’t look down on them, he’s such a big Goosebumps fan he seems to not even care about all the destruction happening outside. I do think the movie made a mistake by not having Chu and Stine cross paths.
If I could sum it up, it’s a fun movie that tries its best despite being hampered by bad timing with its cast. To its credit, it does manage some scary moments with Slappy. When he’s not acting over the top and trying to be creepy in the beginning there are some off-putting moments that the first movie didn’t every really try. The ending set up a sequel that looks intriguing, but who knows because the first one ended with the Invisible Boy on the loose and he wasn’t mentioned in this one. If you’re a fan of the series or Stine’s work, it’s worth a watch.