In the October season of spooks and haunts, there are plenty of opportunities to find some genuine chills in spirit of the holiday with upcoming releases such as this year's horror remakes Halloween and Suspiria. However, for those looking for more family-friendly Halloween scares, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween could hit the spot. It's a sequel to the 2015 adaptation of the beloved frightening children's book by R.L. Stine, who is portrayed by Jack Black in the movie.
Just before Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween's release tomorrow, reviews have trickled in. CinemaBlend's own Mike Reyes gave an overall good impression in his review considering its intended audience. He found Haunted Halloween to tread lighter than its chilling source material, opting for more of a Hocus Pocus-like comedic approach. In his words:
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween will please children to no end, provided they haven't started graduating to the world of any horror films with ratings of PG-13 or above. It's a lightning fast experience that floats on air, and can keep a family entertained for its brief, but exciting run. Though the story is slight, it's still entertaining and perfect for this year's Halloween season.
Since Haunted Halloween looks to be the only major Halloween-themed title this season targeting the whole family, the film does its job of delivering just what one would expect from this sort of release. However, for Entertainment Weekly reviewer Dana Schwartz, the sequel treaded the line of expectation a little too closely, finding it all to similar to the 2015 release. Here's what she said:
Although the film is technically a sequel, the cast is entirely new, with only Jack Black reprising his role (all too briefly) as the author R.L. Stine. And the plot --- the Goosebumps books come to life! --- is so similar to the first film that I wouldn't be surprised to learn Haunted Halloween was a rejected early draft.
Per these reviews, it looks like the new Goosebumps plays it a bit safe plot wise. For audiences who don't put too high expectation on seeing something groundbreaking and are just looking for a good time with the family during the spooky season, Haunted Halloween might do just the trick. Indiewire's Kate Erbland echoes similar the sentiments of other reviewers with these words:
The creativity may be lacking in other areas, but Goosebumps 2 steps up the creature feature quotient with style and smarts. Sandel, who will next direct a big screen version of the animated series "Monster High," has a firm handle on his classic horror film tropes and inventive monsters --- and while Goosebumps 2 muzzles them, underneath all the kiddie stuff, there's real terror. It just needs to be unleashed a bit more the next time around.
While most critics find something to enjoy in Haunted Halloween, Variety's Owen Gleiberman has more bones to pick with the sequel. The reviewer delivered some harsher lines about the movie, saying that it was all smoke screens and not enough story. In his words:
In the movie, Stine complains that he was never able to come up with an adequate ending for "Haunted Halloween." It's up to the kids to write the ending, but despite their best efforts Goosebumps 2 isn't a movie, exactly --- it's a piñata of effects posing as a movie. By the end, there's nothing to do but sweep up the pieces.
Overall, early reviews of Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween agree with each other. The movie offers a likable family film with light scares, shies away from twists and turns away from the genre, but it's also not without its issues. Haunted Halloween comes to theaters alongside First Man and Bad Times at the El Royale on October 12.