GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN review

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For my review of the previous film, click the following link: GOOSEBUMPS (2015)

Is it just me, or would Jack Black be an alright Joker as far as voice acting would be concerned? Think about it, he plays a character that’s creepy as sin, but still kind of hilarious. I don’t know, I think it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, especially considering his winning streak these past couple years.

Actually, I’m going in pretty blind. I never saw the final trailers so I have no idea what the movie is about. It looks more or less like the first movie with a new set of kids who unleash the monsters from Stine’s books… the same monsters… which seems a tad disappointing, but okay…

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jeremy Ray Taylor (IT [2017], ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 4 [2015], and the upcoming IT: CHAPTER TWO [2019]), Caleel Harris (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), and Madison Iseman (JUMANJI 2 [2017], and upcoming films FEAST ON THE SEVEN FISHES [2018] and THE F* IT LIST [2018]).

In support, we have Jack Black (HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK [2018], JUMANJI 2, KUNG FU PANDA 3 [2016], and the upcoming Jumanji 3 [2019]), Wendi McLendon-Covey (MARK FELT [2017], HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS [2016], and upcoming films WHAT MEN WANT [2019] and IMAGINARY ORDER [2019]), Chris Parnell (HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 [2018], BATTLE OF THE SEXES [2017], SISTERS [2015], and HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA [2012]), and Ken Jeong (CRAZY RICH ASIANS [2018], RIDE ALONG 2 [2016], and upcoming films ELSEWHERE [2018] and WONDER PARK [2019]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Ari Sandel, known for THE DUFF (2015). Penning the screenplay is Rob Lieber, known for PETER RABBIT (2018). Composing the score is Dominic Lewis, known for PETER RABBIT, ROUGH NIGHT (2017), and MONEY MONSTER (2016). The cinematographer is Barry Peterson, known for THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (2018), SPACE BETWEEN US (2017), CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016), SISTERS, and the upcoming SUPERINTELLIGENCE (2019). Finally, co-editing are Keith Brachmann (MASTERMINDS [2016], and the upcoming TIME FREAK [2018]) and David Rennie (GRINGO [2018] and KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES [2016]).

Overall, I was more excited than I should be, but then I saw that Lieber wrote PETER RABBIT and my hype died out hard. I’m still hoping for something better than that, but… merr…

This is my honest opinion of: GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN

 

(SUMMARY)

Set on Halloween night. Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his best friend Sam (Caleel Harris) are a pair of young men in high school trying to make some quick money by taking junk off of people’s hands for a price. Their only customer prescribes an address to a worn down house where the boys discover Slappy (voiced by Mick Wingert), a ventriloquist dummy that they accidentally bring to life. He seems to be obsessed with having Sam and Sonny as his brothers, but when they reject him, he decides to use the town’s ancient Tesla machine to cause a massive spell that brings every creature Halloween-related to life and cause havoc. It’s up to Sonny, Sam, and Sonny’s older sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) to stop him with the help of the only weapon that can use: an unfinished manuscript of legendary horror author, R.L. Stine’s known as “Haunted Halloween.”

(REVIEW)

Aww man… I really wanted to like this one. Instead, I was pretty disappointed.

While I can’t pretend that the first movie was anything spectacular, it surprised me with how many loving nods it made to the original books and their clever way of implementing them within the story, like Slappy being the main villain, as he was the most recurring monster in Stine’s original set of books. However, it’s not exactly explained how Slappy escaped the book from the first movie. He just sort of shows up. Even when he does get brought to life and starts happily yammering away at Sonny, Sam, and eventually Sarah, why does he play possum with Kathy (Wendi McLendon-Covey)? What about her changes his dynamic? It makes no sense, especially since Slappy ends up deciding that it’s her that he wants as a mother.

Now I’m really going to dive into this. The more I thought it, the more I was accepting of Slappy as a character. Divorcing from how he’s in this movie at all, Slappy is a much better character. In the previous film, he was basically just another monster who assumes the role of the leader of all the monsters. His character is very simplistic. He wants revenge for being shoved in a book. Here, he’s given a couple more layers. He desires to be part of a family, but not in a Disney kind of way. He’s still an evil dummy and just wants to murder people. So sweet, am I right? And then that doesn’t work out, he’s looking for a mommy and finds her in Kathy, since things didn’t work out with the one he saw as his father. But they never play it up like he’s a lost soul who’s misunderstood and I really appreciate that. With that said, there do seem to be small inconsistencies with him. He has powers, so he uses them to trip up bullies and unscrew a ladders screws to make a dude fall and break his arm. One of the more notable things he does is fix Sonny’s Tesla science project. But when he takes it to school, it works too well and blows a hole in the wall of the science room. Subtle. Kind of like the Joker from Batman, nothing is ever that simple. He’s a psychotic prankster. So… when he makes the Street Fighter figures come to life, which admittedly was a great nod to the video game and its gameplay animation, why do they fight each other, but never hurl a hadouken at Sonny or Sam, but their reaction is “Dude! I just got legit hit in the face with a hadouken!” and think that Slappy is on the up and up with them? I know I’ve been hanging on small details lately, and I should really not let them affect my feelings toward the movie as a whole, but it’s these small details that I feel like would have saved more than others would think.

Ken Jeong remains unfunny. I really don’t like him, I can’t think of a single movie where I think he added anything of comedic substance. Rant over, moving on. One-dimensional bullies? Yup, never seen that before and don’t contribute to anything.

But let’s talk about the stuff that I actually did like.

For one thing, once the action gets going and Slappy awakens all the monsters, it’s pretty fun. I liked how both the Abominable Snowman and the Werewolf come to life. They start off as just masks in front of a promotional posters of their bodies and they basically fuse together. That was pretty cool. And it is a lot of fun to see a whole bunch of Halloween props come to life and wreck havoc, which ultimately does save the movie. My favorite monsters are the green crystal ball face witches, which were a really neat and unique design, as well as Mr. Chu’s giant balloon spider. The tall walking pumpkin was pretty cool too. Credit where credit is due, I was never bored with this movie.

Overall, I can’t say that it’s bad. It’s really not. But for the surprise enjoyment that I took from the first movie, this sort of fell flat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got some good performances and it’s fun to see all these monsters running around, and Slappy is a fun villain. But the humor falls pretty short, the clichés are a little more bothersome, and it just wasn’t something that I agreed with. As a recommendation, eh, bring the kids. They’ll certainly enjoy it, as there isn’t anything particularly bad with movie. Nothing that I can think of anyway. It’s just… forgettable.

My honest rating for GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN: 3/5

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Next week’s reviews:

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