Rob Reviews "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween"
So, I guess I need to put a proviso on something that is well documented on our show. I have said on multiple occasions that I have a policy and I live by a code that I do not do scary movies because I refuse to subject myself to someone trying to make me soil myself on purpose. Given this fact, there may be a question as to why I would volunteer to screen and review “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”.
That answer is simple: I am old.
Since this film is more aimed at the younger crowd, I knew going in that there would not be anything that would violate the way of life that I have grown into due to the number of years that I have behind me. This is not a sequel to the 2015 film, but more of another episode in a series, as the story moves to a small town in New York, where Sarah Quinn (Madison Iseman) is trying to get her essay written on a college application and ends up having to babysit her brother Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his weekend guest and best friend Sam (Caleel Harris) while their mother (Wendy McLendon-Covey) works double shifts to provide for them. The boys are very middle-of-the-road as it pertains to their popularity and are trying to get their junk removal business off the ground as they are called to a rundown house that produces a secret room with a book in it. After they open it, they are introduced to a ventriloquist’s dummy named Slappy (voiced by Jack Black, who also has a brief reprise of his character from the first film). At first, the boys are enthralled with Slappy’s abilities which help them deal with bullies, do their homework, and do their chores, but then things get more sinister as they realize they have unleashed an unfinished story of author R.L. Stine’s. The clock is ticking (no pun on another Jack Black movie that is currently playing) as they try to keep Slappy from taking over their town in a Halloween nightmare.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first film for what it was, and this installment is just as good. This is that kiddie-type of spooky but not in a way that will scar the little ones for life. (Maybe it would for the wee little ones, but the kids that were in the screening I attended did not have any freak-out moments that I noticed.) Ken Jeong is also in this for some comic relief that fits in with everything else for a nice balance to the childlike melodrama that this series is known for.
The visuals from Sony Pictures Animation are done very well, leaving a number of the children in the auditorium wide-eyed and glued to the screen. From possessed gummi bears to characters kids will recognize from the books, CGI effects just seem to get better and better, and the margin between the effects houses are getting more and more narrow, and I think we are all benefitting from it.
If you are looking for a good family film to get you ready for the Trick Or Treat season, a double feature of both of the “Goosebumps” films is a good way to do it. Just do yourself a favor: don’t open any books you don’t recognize, or it just may get a bit stranger for you.