A Franken- Stine cre­ation

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased 5 Fe­bru­ary PG | 103 min­utes

Di­rec­tor Rob Let­ter­man

Cast Jack Black, Dy­lan Min­nette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jil­lian Bell

Faced with the daunt­ing task – one that has taken nearly 20 years to bring to fruition – of turn­ing prodi­gious au­thor RL Stine’s teen- hor­ror Goose­bumps books into a film, writer Dar­ren Lemke and di­rec­tor Rob Let­ter­man have plumped for… all of them.

Well, sev­eral, at least, cram­ming to­gether crea­tures such as the Abom­inable Snow­man, evil gnomes and Slappy the di­a­bol­i­cal dummy into one over­stuffed tale that also fea­tures Stine him­self.

Em­bod­ied here by Jack Black in slightly re­strained form ( so, ma­ni­a­cally mug­ging com­pared to your average hu­man…), Stine is a para­noid recluse, fear­ful that his se­cret will be re­vealed to the world. See, his books con­tain ac­tual beast­ies, and if they were to be un­locked, chaos would spill from the pages. Bet you can’t guess what hap­pens next, after Stine un­der­es­ti­mates the cu­rios­ity of new neigh­bour Zack ( Dy­lan Min­nette) and the fast- formed con­nec­tion be­tween the young man and Stine’s daugh­ter Han­nah ( Odeya Rush).

Slow- cook­ing at first, it later boils over into a fre­netic, ef­fects- heavy show­down be­tween the hor­rors and the hu­mans, nei­ther of which of­fer much in the way of depth, beyond driv­ing the plot. But Let­ter­man, who pre­vi­ously worked with Black on Gul­liver’s Trav­els, and who goes CG- happy again with this one, still man­ages to drum up a lit­tle more hon­est heart and hu­mour to go with the mild, child- friendly scares.

The smartest move made here was round­ing up an as­sort­ment of tal­ented, funny types for sup­port­ing roles, in­clud­ing Ryan Lee as Zack’s wannabe new best friend, Amy Ryan as Zack’s mother and Jil­lian Bell as his wacky aunt.

Goose­bumps is pre­dictably fran­tic and slightly un­der­de­vel­oped in places, which is ironic given the time it’s spent be­ing nur­tured by more than one stu­dio. Yet it’s di­vert­ing enough if you don’t mind a lot of goofy act­ing from both peo­ple and mon­sters. James White

The ’ 90s CBBC TV se­ries of Goose­bumps has just been reis­sued, in a 12- disc box set con­tain­ing all 68 episodes.

Ricky Ger­vais con­ducted the zom­bie choir.

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