American films

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween film review – fun kids adventure sequel

  • It might not be as scary as the prequel, but Goosebumps 2 is still worth watching for families this Halloween
  • Jack Black doesn’t help the story and probably shouldn’t be in it
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 October, 2018, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 October, 2018, 6:03pm

3/5 stars

Although it’s not as frightening as the original – the monsters are less malicious and the situations less threatening – Goosebumps 2 is still a watchable slice of Halloween fun. The film motors along nicely with some mild scares carefully placed along the way, and the barest thread of a storyline makes for an effortless watch.

Halloween review: Jamie Lee Curtis in sequel to slasher horror classic

Jack Black, who played the real-life monster book writer R.L. Stine in the first film, is absent for most of this, but the teen cast act well enough that he is not missed. Indeed, when Black does turn up for the finale, the movie flounders, as there is no place for him in the new storyline, and it is obvious that the producers just wanted him back to give the film some star power.

Fans of the first Goosebumps film will remember the big idea was to put all the wicked creatures from R.L. Stine’s numerous books together in one movie for some mad monster fun. Having done it so well, it is inevitable that part two would simply do the same thing all over again.

The location shifts to a fictional town in New York State where Stine was once supposed to have lived. Two kids, Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris), find an unfinished book by Stine in an abandoned house. Very quickly, the evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy appears and starts terrorising the neighbourhood. Led by Sonny’s pugnacious older sister Sarah (Madison Iseman), the kids fight to get Slappy back inside the pages of the book where he belongs.

The main cast is younger than before, and this iteration of the story seems aimed more at kids than older teens. A giant spider is spooky, but nothing like as terrifying as the giant praying mantis in part one. A scene with murderous gummy bears – a popular American confectionery – is a carbon copy of the garden gnome attack in the first movie, and is more humorous than menacing.

The whole thing is wrapped up in some cloying nonsense about family, motherhood and facing your fears to become a better person. It is a shame, as moral lessons aren’t really necessary in spooky films.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween opens on October 31

Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook