The biggest shocker in Rob Letterman’s new film, based on R.L. Stine’s eponymous children’s horror series, is that it’s funny: It’s successful enough in that comic vein that its failures probably won’t bother you. Dylan Minnette plays Zach, a teenager begrudgingly relocated to suburban Delaware. There he encounters a cute next-door neighbor, Hannah (Odeya Rush), and her reclusive, prickly dad (Jack Black), who, it turns out, is prickly and reclusive for a reason. Suspicions are piqued, basements are entered and before you know it, Stine’s collective literary monsters are brought to life — literally leaping off of their pages — to wreak CGI havoc all over the small town.
Fans of the books will likely recognize every gnome and mummy, but familiarity with Stine’s canon is not a prerequisite. With supporting roles filled by Amy Ryan, Ken Marino, Timothy Simons, Jillian Bell and a scene-stealing sidekick tragically named Champion (Ryan Lee), Goosebumps is an all-ages comedy dressed up in children’s horror. Though overly reliant on underwhelming CGI and plagued by the pervasive safeness inherent to PG-rated horror, Goosebumps is a success.