Aired On: Disney+ | Hulu
Release Date: 10/13/23
Comedy. Fantasy. Horror.
"A group of five high schoolers unleash supernatural forces upon their town, now they must work together in order to save it."
Goosebumps is a grim, dark take on the classic YA book series. As we will only be speaking on the premiere here, this series thus far is an exemplary way of adapting a book series for all ages. Where the features from a few years back made the characters a little whacky, this Goosebumps is adjusting the tone, locking in on the scares over the laughs.
Rob Letterman, who helmed the 2015 Goosebumps returns to direct and his vision here is entirely separate from his previous efforts - yet I applaud him for sticking with the source material (something he clearly enjoys working with) and exploring it in a whole new light. That idea is shared with co-writer Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, Neighbors) and they seem to feed off one another well as they deliver a truly intriguing horror concept.
As far as its tone, Goosebumps reminds me of the fantastic direction of the first two seasons of the Scream television series, until it went off the rails (another story there). It’s grim and real in its atmosphere yet has a sense of dark fantasy hiding behind relics of the past.
Justin Long leaves a captivating cliffhanger that'll easily lead the viewer into clicking the next episode, with Long clearly having fun playing the more adult role he’s now old enough to play comfortably. While I’m unfamiliar with the young cast of teenage characters, all the performances are well adjusted for the serious overhaul the series is taking on. Zack Morris’ Isaiah is the standout amongst the cast, really being the shining focus of the premiere and showcasing the true terror the “haunted” camera possesses. Notably the CGI effects aren’t grand but in the small scale of "Goosebumps" lore, the cheesy nature of them makes them more fitting in this universe.
Goosebumps’ return is triumphant, leading off with a premiere that draws the nostalgic scares readers’ bewared all those years ago. Having two previous feature film adaptations that focused on the laughs, a series that truly struggles to hold up from the mid90s, this new Goosebumps brings the frights to a new generation, while satisfying those that grew up with R.L. Stine’s chilling tales.