Countdown to Halloween: Goosebumps 2.

This year I’m taking a look at my 5 year old son discovering all the scares of the Halloween season. My posts are part of the Countdown to Halloween, a group of like minded bloggers talking all about this most creepy time of year. Click the link to find more great blogs.

Previously I talked about my son discovering the Goosebumps movie.  Well, thanks to certain algorithms and focused advertisements there has been nothing but commercials for the sequel, Haunted Halloween, for the last few weeks. My wife and I decided that he’s proven himself in the movie theater before and this sounded like a great outing. Soda, popcorn, M&Ms and numerous trailers later (green preview screen comes up and we hear, “not another one!”) and we are deep into the latest movie from R.L. Stine’s world.

Some horror movie critics that I respect hated the movie. To that I say, what did you bring in the theater with you? I don’t mean snacks. I mean opinions. No, the horror enthusiast who loves the gory will not find it here. The parent who wants to enjoy something scary and safe with their child is guaranteed a good time. Not once did I feel this was a waste of time or money. If anything I can see this newest generation holding it up as a classic of their childhood much like we put the Goonies or the Monster Squad on a pedestal.

I turn to my wife early in the movie and ask, “is that Beverly Goldberg without the 80s makeup and hair?” Sure enough its Wendi McLendon-Covey and she plays her role perfect in here. Nothing has too much exposition, which is great and needless for the children. As an adult though there is plenty on screen to add backstory. Single mom, wearing scrubs, working odd hours, kids that had to grow up fast when dad was no longer around. I’m getting 100 pages of character development through costume, set design, and clever dialogue. If the creative team behind this movie cares so much here, then the stars of the film will shine even brighter.

Well, as far as a plastic dummy can shine. Slappy is at his worst here. Far more active than the first movie and every movement raises his creepy level one bit more. He has his motivations and how he uses those around him to achieve them is as malevolent as a kids movie can possibly be. There’s a few times where I thought, “that’s a bit dark”. but I also grew up watching a man turn into a werewolf spewing “he’s gonna kill your son!” into a phone. So, kids aren’t as fragile as we sometimes think.

The favorite monsters from the first film are back: abominable snowman, the gnomes, and my son’s favorite – the werewolf. Along with all new creatures like a giant balloon spider. Not since Wild Wild West has there been such a terrifying spider monster on screen. Thankfully, this movie is much better than that steampunk western and 100% less veiled racism too!

The only knock I have is that the first movie had more danger. Escape from the snowman, the wolfman, the gnomes, the mantis, Slappy himself. Every couple minutes was another moment of peril. Haunted Halloween has Slappy and most everything else is subservient to him. They are still scares but they don’t exist as scares unto themselves.  They’re more like sidekick scares.

What’s more important is my kid loved it. He yelled at the screen like this was a junior Rocky Horror. It was pure fun for him and he’s already asking when we can buy it on DVD. I regret nothing. Actually, I regret one thing because now there’s a 5 year old who likes to creep up behind me and say “hello” like Slappy.  If I thought he would go for it, I would get a suit and makeup for Halloween so the whole world can share in this.

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