Plot: What’s it about?
After moving to Madison, Delaware with his mother, Zach (Dylan Minnette) is trying to be optimistic. His mother urges him to at least make the most of it, and he does. After all, he doesn’t have much of a choice since he’s still a minor. It doesn’t take long for Zach to cross paths with his new neighbor, Mr. Shivers (Jack Black) who is not only odd, but has a few secrets of his own. Shivers lives with his daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush). After hearing a strange noise next door, Zach calls the cops on Shivers, but he insists it’s just his state-of-the-art sound system that’s making the noise. Later, Zach and his new friend, Champ (Ryan Lee) sneak back into the house and discover several horror stories written by R.L. Stine. After fumbling around, one of the books falls and Zach accidentally opens one. Little does he know that when opened, the books come to life. With various creatures such as werewolves and lawn gnomes on the loose, it’s now up to Zach and the gang to try and stop the creatures from wreaking havoc on the town.
I recall reading a few Goosebumps books when I was younger, and being quite pleased with them. Tim Burton was once attached to produce a film in the late 90’s, but that fell through. While I did enjoy the film now in my later years, I can’t imagine my excitement had I seen this film in my youth. Still, it’s quite a good time. I’m a mild Jack Black fan, but I feel he did a good job here. I admit that it took me a while to warm up to his accent in the film, but somehow it grew on me over the course of the film. The rest of the cast does a fine, if unremarkable job. There’s nothing bad about the teenage actors, but nothing memorable either. Zach and Hannah’s relationship develops nicely towards the end of the film. One of the things I appreciated most about the film is how it remains amusing even when the plot goes on autopilot. There’s a point in a film like this where the effects take over and it simply goes through the motions. While that does happen here, what makes it unique are the little asides during the chase scenes. The characters bicker back and forth and make little gags here and there. Some of the creatures might be a bit frightening for some younger viewers, there’s nothing that should bother older kids too much. Be sure to keep an eye out for an amusing cameo late in the film. It adds a nice little twist with the character’s name as well.
Video: How’s it look?
Once again Sony satisfies with a flawless transfer. The image is never less than pleasing to the eyes, and features sharp detail throughout. There are plenty of darker scenes in the film, but they’re as equally sharp as the day scenes. The effects in the film are well done and the image duplicates that nicely as well. All in all, fans should have little trouble loving this transfer. It’s AVC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
We get a Dolby Atmos 7.1 track here that’s also quite robust and quite pleasing. The film does have quieter moments, but more often than not, there’s always something to keep this track active. There’s a sequence in a supermarket that makes good use of all the channels and really helps replicate the atmosphere of the film. Vocals are equally as strong. Like the transfer, fans should have no issues with this track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Cast Blooper Reel
- Alternate Opening and Deleted Scenes
- All about Slappy – This takes a look at one of the puppets featured in the film. It’s a short piece, but worth watching once.
- Beginner’s guide to surviving a Goosebumps creature – Zach and Champ give tips on how to survive being chased by creatures in the film.
- Cast Screen Test Gallery – Pretty self-explanatory as we see early test screening clips of some of the actors in the film.
- Strange Things Are happening…On Set – This features the actor that played Zach discussing some on-set mishaps.
- Creaturefield – This takes a look at the creatures and the guys who helped design them. It also gives pointers for creating some on your own.
The Bottom Line
Goosebumps doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it knows what the target audience wants and delivers on that promise. The film is a lot of fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fans of the books and of Jack Black should be more than pleased with the film. The Blu-ray delivers on all fronts. While the extras aren’t terribly in depth, they’re still worth checking out. The film and the disc come recommended.