Let me start off by saying I was genuinely surprised at how well the movie captured R.L. Stine's style, I was impressed.
The movie begins with teenager Zachary “Zach” Cooper (Dyan Minnette) and his mom Gale (Amy Ryan) moving to the small town of Madison, Delaware. This is where Gale will start her new job as vice principal at the local high school Zach will be attending. Zach is anything but impressed with this seemingly boring town until he meets the girl next door, Hannah (Odeya Rush). Zach seems to have a particular interest in Hannah but her mysterious, creepy, and very antisocial father (Jack Black) known by the locals as “Mr. Shivers" warns Zach to stay away from his daughter and on his side of the fence or something bad would happen. Zach grows increasingly suspicious of Hannah's father, insisting something isn't right. Until one night when Zach witnesses a fight between Hannah and her dad through a window in their home, he calls the police but is unable to produce any solid evidence.
Zach then calls upon his new "Friend" at school Champ, short for Champion (Ryan Lee) to assist him in uncovering the truth about what's happened to Hannah by breaking into her house. While in the home the two of them come across a bookshelf with all of the original Goosebumps books- curiosity takes over when they see the books all have locks on them. There is a key on the desk which Zack uses to open one of them unleashing one of the monsters. This leads to the two of them discovering that “Mr. Shivers” is really actually famous Goosebumps author R.L. Stine. Zach and Champ also accidently unleash the various creatures imagined by Stine in the process. Black explains he's been keeping them locked up in his original manuscripts, after they started becoming very real over the years. It’s then up to Zach, Champ, Hannah, and Stine to save the day and return the author’s monsters, ghosts, demons, etc. to the pages where they belong. I must say I was impressed with Jack Black's performance as R.L. Stine.
With the film's $58 million budget, however, the monsters are merely acceptable. I was a little disappointed in that fact that they only used a few of the monsters while the rest were just kind of there. I felt like they should have been a little more interactive in the story, possibly making the movie a bit longer. Instead only a handful are used in a little one on one with Stine and his teenage posse. I also wasn't a fan of how the movie kept swaying in the direction of romance. They focused a little too much attention in Zach and Hannah and not enough on the monsters individually.
Other than that the movie was exceptional, it adds playful comedy with corny, but witty jokes here and there while combining just enough fright to leave its viewers with goosebumps on the edge of their seats. Very active, never a dull moment. Definitely a movie the whole family can enjoy. Very nostalgic for us '90s kids and something you can hopefully pass onto your children someday. The movie Helps introduce the younger generation into the horror genre slowly but surely and possibly even encouraging them to pick up one of R.L. Stine's originals from the movie.