Cast: Jeremy Ray Taylor, Madison Iseman, Caleel Harris, Wendi McLendon-Covey
Director: Ari Sandel
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Slappy is back to wreak more havoc this Halloween in a brand-new comedy adventure based on R.L. Stine’s 400-million-selling series of books.
Capitalizing off the success of both R.L. Stine’s collection of children’s horror novels as well as the critical and commercial success of 2015’s Goosebumps movie, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween shows us a different story but is still centered around Slappy (voiced by Mick Wingert) a ventriloquist dummy and the villain from the previous film. As with any sequel, the quality is sure to drop off a bit as we have seen most of what this villain has in store for us. Taking this film as it what it is though, it is a perfectly average, acceptable family horror movie. The acting is decent, the jokes are hit or miss, and the plot is nothing original, but that does not mean that the film cannot be enjoyed by pretty much anyone watching it.
The film follows Sonny Quinn (Taylor), his sister Sarah (Iseman), and his friend Sam (Harris), as they must find a way to stop Slappy from destroying the town and taking their mother (McLendon-Covey) away from them after Sonny and Sam discovered him in a house and released him from his prison. As a whole, this movie is relatively harmless and the things it does well are offset by some of the weaker areas of the movie. The humor is mostly slapstick and juvenile, but in a film like this it works out quite well. Every once in a while seeing a bully get pantsed by an evil dummy is fun to watch, and in this case the director and writer knew what they were doing with those scenes. The childish scenes are never too long and they are spread out evenly enough where you never really get sick of them. Regarding the thing that Stine is known for, it is no surprise that the best part of this film was the scares and imagery to showcase the horror that these characters have gone through. This film, much like the original one, capitalizes on the fear factor of the novels and is successfully able to incorporate some of the most notorious monsters from Stine’s books into this film. As someone who grew up reading these books, I enjoyed being able to see the monsters I read about come to life on-screen, so kudos to Sandel for making that into a reality. While the film is for the most pretty enjoyable, that does not mean it is flawless. This movie violated two of my cardinal rules regarding clichés in movies. The first is that Sarah has a needless romantic plot line that goes absolutely nowhere. I understand that it helped establish Slappy as a villain further into the film, but there had to be a different way to show us this detail without taking us through the same teen romantic plot line that everyone has seen countlessly. Outside of that, I really do not like when movies end with sequel-bait to potentially set up another installment in the franchise. This movie should have focused much more on keeping the current story under wraps before setting up a new one. If you desperately want to make a sequel, you can do what this film did and just create a new set of characters and environment that just happen to have the same villain. The film was fine without that added scene and honestly just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, of all of the family themed films to come out this year, this one might be the most mediocre but also the most benevolent. The acting is acceptable, the story is enjoyable, and with the exceptions of the pitfalls listed above, it should be able to be enjoyed by virtually anyone. This is the perfect time for this movie to come out from a financial standpoint, but outside of that, it should be a family film that can stand out among the myriad of similar movies that will come out during the rest of the year.
Overall Score: 5/10