Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

Movie Name/Year: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family Length: 90 Minutes Rating: PG Production/Distribution: Scholastic Entertainment Inc., Original Film, Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures, Silvertongue Films Director: Ari Sandel Writers: Rob Lieber, Darren Lemke, R.L. Stine Actors: Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong, Mick Wingert, Jack Black Blurb from IMDb: Two young friends find a magic book that brings a ventriloquist's dummy to life.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m a little on the fence about Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. There were good and, well, not as good moments about it. I can’t say that there was anything that I expressly hated about it.

It did feel like a follow-up book from a young-adult series more than a blockbuster sequel. The key word there is likely ‘sequel.’ I’m not sure that this film escaped the curse.

So let’s start with the positive!

The original movie’s cast stayed busy and had committed to other projects while this was in production.  That could have spelled bad news for this project if significant recast of major characters were needed. Since the story didn’t try to pick up immediately where the first left off, the sequel dodged that bullet for the most part. 

To be honest, I didn’t even realize Jack Black (The Polka King, The Unexpected Race, The House With a Clock in Its Walls) wasn’t voicing Slappy until the end credits. Mick Wingert (Modest Heroes, Avengers Assemble, Ultraman) did a wonderful job with the role. Of course, he’s no stranger to stepping into Black’s vocal shoes. He’d also been tapped to be the voice of Po in Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny (2018) series.

The cast, in general, was selected fairly well. The ‘kids’ were generally recognizable from their other projects, but not to the extent that it would overshadow their performances here. I bought in to the little family at the core of the story, and the issues they were going through.

Older horror fans might recognize Jeremy Ray Taylor (42, The History of Us, Geostorm) from his recent role in It (2017), and Madison Iseman (The Rachels, Still the King, Feast of Seven Fishes) from the wildly popular sequel of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017). Caleel Harris (Think Like a Man Too, How Sarah Got Her Wings, The Loud House) fit well as the practically-family best friend and still has that ‘I know that kid from somewhere’ vibe to him.

I also really enjoyed the whimsy of Ken Jeong’s (Dr. Ken, Wonder Park, Avengers: Endgame) neighbor character.

The life-lessons and character growth was decent here, as could be expected from youth-oriented horror-light like this. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t say that I haven’t seen it all before. There were so many well used recipes here. There’s a point at which I wondered if the movie was poking fun at itself, understanding this. I’m afraid giving the example would be a major spoiler; so if you give it a shot you’ll likely see what I mean.

Ultimately, I was a bit disappointed with this story. I wanted it to be either a ‘what happens next’ from the first movie with same characters and new adventures; or I wanted it to be much further removed from the first while remaining in the same ‘world’ of the Goosebumps stories. I’m not sure that what we got was entirely either.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 48% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40% Metascore – 53/100 Metacritic User Score – 4.3/10 IMDB Score – 5.6/10 CinemaScore – B
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5
P.S. There are some animated scenes, as well as 1 epilogue scene during the credits.
Movie Trailer:

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