“Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” stars Jeremy Ray Taylor, Madison Iseman, Caleel Harris, Ken Jeong, Chris Parnell, and Wendi McLendon-Covey. Released on October 12, 2018, the film has a group of kids attempting to prevent Slappy the Dummy from taking over their hometown.
The film is directed by Ari Sandel, who also directed “The DUFF” and “When We First Met”. It is a sequel to the 2015 horror comedy, “Goosebumps”, and it is based on the children’s book series of the same name by R. L. Stine. When you have a child who is far too young to watch some of the adult-rated horror films around Halloween, the best possible solution to this situation is this: expose them to some kid-friendly horror material that lacks the blood and gore, including “Goosebumps”. Three years ago, Sony Pictures Animation revived the world of “Goosebumps” for the big screen and the result was a fun and scary good time at the movies. Now, they’re attempting to recreate that old “Goosebumps” magic again by having a new group of characters tackle the monsters from Stine’s book series. Unfortunately, they made it seem like it’s easier said than done.
One of my personal concerns that I had for the film was the plot. When I saw the film’s trailer for the first time, I immediately realized that it featured a story that was familiar to its predecessor’s plot. When I finally got a chance to see it, my concern slowly started to become a reality. Aside from a few differences, such as the characters, the sequel relied a bit too much on the familiar plot elements that worked in its predecessor instead of creating a fresh new storyline to lure in older fans of the Goosebumps series. The story also failed to recapture the irresistible charm and the clever humor that made the first “Goosebumps” film a terrifyingly fun treat. There were a couple of moments that kids might enjoy, like the visuals and some tolerable performances from the cast, but everything else may leave the adults wondering why they didn’t adapt the “Goosebumps HorrorLand” book series into a film instead. The kid actors who portrayed the main characters in the film, like Madison Iseman as Sarah and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Sonny, were pretty decent, in my opinion, even though their attempts at providing humor were very flat and unmemorable. Wendi McLendon-Covey as the kids’ mother had only one good moment and nothing else, and Ken Jeong as the neighbor, I really don’t want to know why he’s in the film to begin with. To the film’s credit, however, it did a nice job in displaying the visual effects on the “Goosebumps” monsters, especially Slappy the Dummy. Speaking of which, Slappy is now voiced by Mick Wingert in the sequel instead of Jack Black. For those who don’t know who Mick Wingert is, he is mostly known for voicing Black’s other character, Po, in the Nickelodeon television show, “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness”. In my personal opinion, I thought Wingert was both convincing and enjoyable as Slappy. He really nailed the Jack Black impersonation. Also, if you’re hoping for Jack Black to appear in the sequel, you are in luck because he only appears in the film’s third act. Yep, the actor who actually made the first film enjoyable doesn’t make an appearance until the film’s finale. I know that it may or may not be a spoiler, but trust me, it’s better that you know now rather than later.
Overall, “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” is undoubtedly the most unnecessary sequel that has been released by Sony Pictures Animation. While the kids will enjoy the film’s creepy visuals and the cast, the adults may not be able to find any fresh ideas in this pumpkin mush. It’s not the worst family film I’ve seen since I found a couple of tolerable scenes, but based on my experience, it could’ve gone in a different direction. If you’re a fan of the “Goosebumps” books and the first film, I would recommend watching it at home.