Cast: Jack Black, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell And Ken Jeong Director: Ari Sandel
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.
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.