Monday, October 15, 2018

Movie Review: "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" (2018)

Director: Ari Sandel
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

When two teens find an old R.L. Stein book, they open and unwittingly release an evil dummy named Slappy, who then proceeds to bring Halloween to life to wreak havoc on their small town.

Goosebumps 2 Haunted Halloween 2018 movie still Jeremy Ray Taylor Caleel Harris
"We are treasure hunters. People totally respect us around here." (Image Source)
The last "Goosebumps" film was a surprising winner for us. Will this sequel be as good as its predecessor, or will it fail to bring the frightening fun the original had in abundance? "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" is directed by Ari Sandel, who has directed movies like "The DUFF," and the Netflix original "When We First Met." It is written by Rob Lieber, who wrote "Peter Rabbit," and Darren Lemke, who wrote "Turbo" and the original "Goosebumps." This story focuses on two teenage boys named Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris), two best friends who are attempting to start a junk business. They get a job cleaning out an old house with the condition that they can keep whatever they want. The two find a bunch of knickknacks and a locked book. Upon opening it, they unwittingly release Slappy the ventriloquist dummy (Jack Black), who desperately wants a family of his own. When they discover Slappy is sort of evil, they try their best to stop his shenanigans, which just makes him mad, and you don't want to see him when he gets mad. Slappy then creates his own new family by bringing all of the Halloween decorations from their small town to life, plunging everything and everyone into chaos. Now, Sonny, Sam, and Sonny's older sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) must find a way to stop Slappy's reign of terror.
Goosebumps 2 Haunted Halloween 2018 movie still Madison Iseman Jeremy Ray Taylor Caleel Harris
"When an animated doll tells you to keep secrets, that's a red flag." (Image Source)
As we mentioned, the original "Goosebumps" was a big astonishment to us. We didn't expect much from it, but we had a great time watching it in all its frightful family-friendly fun. Since we enjoyed that film so much, "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" had to at least meet that bar, and unfortunately, it doesn't come anywhere close. What we get in this sequel is virtually a rehash of the original with an entirely different cast, in an entirely different location, with ten times more Slappy, and only one small cameo from Jack Black as R.L. Stine, who serves no purpose except for a throwaway gag and a set-up for a potential third installment. As Slappy brings a bunch of decorations to life, they run amok in a small town...and that's really about it. There's a subplot about Nikola Tesla, a subplot about Sarah going to Columbia, and a subplot about how Sam and Sarah's mom (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and drugstore manager Walter (Chris Parnell) have an attraction towards one another. There are a scant few funny moments, a couple family-friendly haunts, and are a minor few excellent special effects mixed in with some bad ones. There is a minimal amount of entertainment value, which pushes this into "okay" territory as opposed to "crapola" territory.
Goosebumps 2 Haunted Halloween 2018 movie still Jeremy Ray Taylor Caleel Harris
"Honey, you seriously need to stop electrocuting yourself and eat your breakfast." (Image Source)
The best "Goosebumps" movie we saw this year wasn't a Goosebumps movie at all, and that flick was "The House With a Clock in Its Walls." That movie was so similar and so superior that it's completely unfair to "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween," which was released a mere three weeks after it. It may be wrong to compare the two, but that movie ruled compared to this sequel. In the end, this is a middling affair with an occasional amusing moment, but it's not so fun that we can fully recommend it. Watch the first one instead, or better yet, go see "The House With a Clock in Its Walls." It's the far better option of the two if you're looking for a family-friendly horror film.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.3/10
RT Rating: ~43%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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