Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween review — Sequel lacks elements that made the original so memorable

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween could be the nail in the coffin for the horror-comedy franchise

Mihir Fadnavis October 26, 2018 12:50:39 IST

2/5

The first Goosebumps movie was a pleasant surprise with the amazing Jack Black, fun VFX, a charming sense of humor and adventure with just the right dose of chills from the RL Stine books. Since the film earned some money, it was only a matter of time until the less spectacular sequel arrived. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is precisely what you expect – a big step down from the original film, sorely missing the elements that made the earlier movie so memorable.

Goosebumps 2 Haunted Halloween review  Sequel lacks elements that made the original so memorable

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween promotional banner

Oddly, the sequel is targeted towards kids as opposed to the first movie which has something for everyone. It’s reminiscent of Batman and Robin when the studios assumed that turning a good property into a children’s toy farm would be a good idea. Anyway, we’re put into the city of Wardenclyffe where Sarah (Madison Iseman) is struggling to get into college and dealing with heartbreak. Her brother Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his buddy Sam (Caleel Harris) start a cleaning company and the trio find themselves in the house of a ventriloquist dummy name Slappy (Mick Wingert, doing a Jack Black imitation). Slappy offers to help the kids, but little do they know that he has some evil plans to ruin everyone’s Halloween.

The film doesn’t really follow the events of the first film, that way it’s actually a brave attempt by director Ari Sandel to make the film seem like a new chapter from the Goosebumps books – about new kids in a new town facing a new monster. The story itself is a bit of a let down though, rife with the clichéd town oddballs and high school bullies you’ve seen countless time in movies before. The events unfolding in the movie therefore become very predictable, offsetting the horror and suspense that the production design and cinematography so painfully try to create. Since this is more of a kids’ film, the spooky things that happen in the film also watered down. There is a brief burst of energy when the CGI monsters conjured by Slappy show up for the first time and wreck havoc in town, but the energy quickly dissipates the moment the focus shifts back to the protagonists, who aren’t as charming as the kids from the previous film.

Quirky teenagers saving the day from supernatural things is always a safe bet in cinema but not when the potential to do more was so much more; this way Goosebumps 2 could actually be the nail in the coffin for the franchise. It doesn’t quite build a serviceable bridge between horror and comedy, with the former having too little presence in the film — especially when a film with ‘Halloween’ in its title promises much more of it. It’s time filmmakers stopped assuming that kids these days shouldn’t be exposed to macabre horror – there’s far more terrifying things they see on an every day basis out in the real world.  If horror cinema is their avenue at escapism, let them have the real deal and not sanitised substandard products.

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