GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN
Goosebumps was that rare surprise: a film aimed primarily at kids that everyone could enjoy, which channelled its enormously popular source material with enough wacky wit that it worked. It didn’t hurt that it boasted a fun, committed performance from Jack Black as a version of author RL Stine. Which is why the sequel is ultimately so disappointing.
Haunted Halloween follows much the same track as the original, as kids discover a Stine tome and accidentally unleash monster madness. Yet setting it at the scariest time of year just feels lazy – costumes and decorations coming alive are hardly the most inspired idea to create a family-friendly horror feel. The scares are largely anchored around creatures such as Gummi Bears leaping towards the cast, and that concept quickly becomes stale. To make matters worse, the jokes don’t hit their targets.
To cap it all, Black’s Stine is himself an afterthought; while it was sensible to not have him solve everything again, his absence throughout most of the running time creates a charisma void that none of the new cast can fill. This is the cinematic equivalent of a knock-off Halloween costume: a disappointing copy festooned with sloppy stitches. James White