amer­i­can hor­ror Story

Empire (UK) - - REVIEW - From May 30 / Cert. pg The Goonies Grem­lins. he­len o’hara

his was not a hugely an­tic­i­pated film, even for those who have grown up on R. L. stine’s teen hor­ror books, but it was one of this year’s best sur­prises. Like The LEGO Movie, it takes puck­ish de­light in min­ing nos­tal­gia, and shows no com­punc­tion in throw­ing all the great­est hits at the screen at once — in this case, the mon­sters of 62 nov­els. those in­clude a psy­chic fly­ing poo­dle and killer lawn gnomes, cat­nip for fans and a pleas­antly bizarre ex­pe­ri­ence for the rest of us.

the story sees teenager Zach (Dy­lan Min­nette) and his mother Gale (amy Ryan) move to a new town af­ter a fam­ily tragedy. Zach be­friends hannah (odeya Rush), the mys­te­ri­ous girl next door, un­til her hos­tile fa­ther R. L. stine (Jack Black) or­ders him to stay away. Zach’s at­tempts to find out what’s go­ing on re­veal stine’s se­cret: his mon­sters are real, and are trapped in his books.

Long story short, they all get loose and wreak havoc on the small town, in a reign of ter­ror led by ven­tril­o­quist’s dummy slappy (also voiced by Black). Be­sides the gnomes, there’s a gi­ant prey­ing man­tis, a yeti, aliens, zom­bies and were­wolves to es­cape as our mis­matched heroes try to fig­ure out how to save the town, build­ing to a show­down at the lo­cal high school’s big dance. But amid the ridicu­lous crea­tures and some gen­uine (though child-friendly) scares, the film makes us care about the char­ac­ters, from the faintly tragic hannah to Black’s mis­un­der­stood stine.

it’s witty and know­ing, with an ad­mirable com­mit­ment to weird­ness, but it’s that un­der­ly­ing sin­cer­ity that re­calls the best of am­blin’s ’80s out­put and makes it fit to sit on a shelf along­side


Top: jack Black au­di­tions the teens for School Of Rock 2. Above: The mon­sters are ready to mash up the town.

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