Review: ‘Goosebumps’ frightens but in a fun, family-friendly kind of way

“Goosebumps” is a 2015 horror comedy movie written by Darren Lemke and directed by Rob Letterman. Based on R.L. Stine’s children’s book series of the same name, the feature film stars Jack Black as the noted but reclusive author whose monsterous literary creations somehow come to life.

A scary clown like this one terrorizes the adolescent heroes in the feature film "Goosebumps," a 2015 horror comedy movie based on R.L. Stine’s children’s book series of the same name now playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter. Photo by Tom Roberts on

BAXTER — Just in time for Halloween, “Goosebumps” is back for a return engagement at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter

Based on R.L. Stine’s popular children’s book series of the same name, the 2015 feature film stars Jack Black as the noted novelist whose horrific figments of his fertile imagination are brought to life when his original manuscripts under lock and key are unwittingly unleashed.

For those concerned parents already wondering right off the bat, the PG movie keeps its family-friendly roots as it makes its way from the pages of Stine’s books to the cinematic universe in the horror-comedy written by Darren Lemke and directed by Rob Letterman.

The movie begins with a teen by the name of Zach Cooper relocating from New York City with his mother Gale to what he thinks is the sleepy community of Madison, Delaware, after the loss of his father, and after his mom takes a new job as the high school vice principal.

Actor Dylan Minnette convincingly plays the disaffected youth who soon becomes intrigued and enamored by his new next-door neighbor, Stine’s fetching daughter. Her overprotective father, however, chillingly rebuffs Cooper’s attempts at friendliness by warning the boy to stay away.


Stine’s somewhat rebellious daughter Hannah, played by Odeya Rush, has other ideas. She soon ingratiates herself in the lonely boy’s life and even invites him on a field trip of sorts to an abandoned amusement park where they share some laughs and grow closer together.

One night when Cooper is studying home alone, he hears a scream coming from the Stine household and witnesses what appears to be a domestic disturbance between the father and the daughter based on the silhouettes of the pair as seen from afar.

Cooper soon enlists his new and only high school friend Champ, played by Ryan Lee as a girl-obsessed, socially awkward boy who introduced himself to Cooper during the cringe-worthy school gymnasium-based introduction of Cooper’s mom as the new high school vice principal.

On the pretext of securing dates to the high school dance, Cooper invites to his house Champ, who arrives eagerly in a suit and tie. Cooper reveals to the cowardly boy his darkest fears, suspicions of a violent crime next door and convinces him they should investigate.

The pair break into Stine’s bear-trapped basement — and they wonder why anyone would have such an extreme security measure, causing Champ to want to run the other way — but the undaunted Cooper, blinded by his feelings for Hannah, urges them to press on.

They stumble upon Stine’s library, with its cache of his original works, where they start to piece together the man’s real identity, a celebrated children’s author whose literary creations have kept awake many a children with his spooky, spine-tingling tales of horror and supernatural.

Hannah and her single-father discover the pair of interlopers but not before Cooper unlocks one of the original manuscripts just to satisfy Champ’s curiosity. The words literally leap from the typewritten pages and one of Stine’s monstrous creations takes shape before their very eyes.

One of Stine’s more mischievous or borderline diabolical creations, Slappy the ventriloquist dummy, has no plans of returning to the confines of the author’s manuscripts, and the pint-sized troublemaker voiced by Black lets loose all the other creatures created by Stine for his books.


Cooper, Champ, Hannah and her father join forces to recapture the all-too-real incarnations of the abominable snowman, a werewolf, the invisible boy and more as they wreak havoc upon the townsfolk, carve a destructive path through the town and terrify its bewildered residents.

Goosebumps, the horror fiction novels published by Scholastic Publishing, are favorite among children of all ages for being spooky but not too scary, and I am glad to see the filmmakers kept that same ethos in mind when they decided to make a feature film based on the book series.

The children’s series has sold more than 400 million books worldwide in thirty-two languages since the release of its first novel, “Welcome to Dead House,” in July 1992, becoming the second-best-selling book series in history after J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

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Frank Lee

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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