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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

New boy unleashes old monsters

Goosebumps (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Recently widowed Gale Cooper (Amy Ryan) moves from NYC to sleepy Madison, Del. with her doubtful teen­age son Zach (Dylan Minnette) in order to accept a position as Vice Principal of Madison High School. The school's team is “Go Devils!” and Zach fits in beyond all expectation when he accidentally unleashes a slew of monsters from the latched books of a reclusive author (“All the monsters I've ever created are locked inside these books”) his neighbor R.L. Stine (Jack Black.) But not to worry, Stine's (imaginary) pretty daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) and Zach's geeky pal Chump Champ (Ryan Lee) will help recapture the beasties on paper.


This flick is a monster extravaganza, and I think the idea here is that if it hits enough of the various types—animated dummy, bug-eyed monster, space aliens, were­wolf, ape man, gnomes, blob, clown, etc.—it's bound to strike the particular adolescent fear of every young member of the audience. That doesn't mean adults get off unscathed. Lurking in the back­ground are the monsters that scare adults as well, once they escape from the books.

It starts with the police presence in this Podunk town. Called to a possible 10–16 (domestic disturbance) Officer-in-training Brooks (Amanda Lund) has a rather heavy-handed approach to a neighbor's too loud TV. She has to be reigned in by her partner Officer Stevens (Timothy Simons). The book she was going by was evidently geared to big-city crime, and when her response was disproportionate to the peaceful neighbor­hood, I got a good laugh out of it, but not every­body will think it's funny.

In Madison High School, filling up the background of a room on screen is a wall-size periodic chart of the elements. When scientists learned how to codify the elements so, they started filling in the gaps, discovering new elements that weren't around before. These ended up being manufactured by man. The scientists could well say, along with [Franken-]Stine, “My monsters literally leapt off the page.” For an example of adult fears of the friendly atom, take author Peter Tonkin writing: “his whole burly body was … infested with a murderously insidious dusting of Uranium 235, and its quaintly named daughters Lead 210 and Polonium 210. A talcum-fine powder … had been applied to the man-made lining of his nylon coat. In a very short while indeed, he was destined simply to start disinte­grating from the inside out. Then he would rot to death in a matter of hours and there was nothing any­one could do to save him” (1). Not my idea of a fun way to go.

If all else fails, there's always the Jewish fear of the Holocaust. They will recall from their Tanakh the story of the nation Judah being led into captivity by the Chaldeans and what happened to King Hezekiah. The prophet Jeremiah warned him (Jer. 32:4-5) “the king of Babylon … shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon.” The prophet Ezekiel, on the other hand, (Ezek. 12:13) said he shall not see Babylon. This conundrum is sorted out by a twist in history, (Jer. 39:6-7) “Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes … . More­over he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.” The last thing Zedekiah saw before his eyes were put out was the death of his sons, then he was trans­ported to Babylon the capital of the enemy. That is one twisted end.

In “Goosebumps” there appears a classroom outline of the plot of the movie: “Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts: The beginning … The middle … And the twist.” The end/twist of this tale involves a counter-spell to put all the monsters back where they belong, and it goes like this: “the monsters were swallowed back into the world of paper and ink, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN.” That leaves it open to a twisted finale regarding the visual sense.

Not every adult or child will be frightened by every monster in this movie, but it's likely there will be one that'll grab you.

Production Values

This 2015 film “” was directed by Rob Letterman. It features a story by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, and a screen­play by Darren Lemke. It's a takeoff on R.L. Stine's beloved “Goose­bumps” series of books. It stars Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, and Odeya Rush. Performances are a mixed bag. Black doesn't do much for his character. Minnette is adequate as leading man. Talented comedians Timothy Simons and Ken Marino aren't given a chance. Jillian Bell attempts to upstage the others in her scenes as Zach's batty, spinster aunt, which here is not hard to do.

MPAA rated it PG for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor. The musical score by Danny Elfman is standard fare, but it helps move things along. The fantasy mix of CGI and practical effects brings us monsters that are too cartoonish by half. Except for Slappy, a genuine dummy puppeted by Avery Lee Jones and voiced by Black, who does come across scary. The editing retains a mish­mash feel.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I thought this was a family-friendly movie: not too scary for the young uns, not too blasé for adults. There are more serious frights out there, I'm sure, but this one fills a family niche. Not the best crafted film you'll ever see, but no serious faults. Won't make any­body's acting career, but won't destroy any either. A good fit for the Halloween season.

The DVD expected release is Jan., 2016.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, Print.

Tonkin, Peter. Ice Station. Surrey, England: Severn House Pub., 2011. Print.