Critic Rating

Goosebumps 2, Hunted Halloween is a cauldron of fantasy, fiction, creativity and drama which fully caters to satiate the appetite of the young ones. It is a family movie, suited for provoking the imaginative young minds of the little ones. In addition, seeing our favorite horror fiction series coming to action once again on screen was a pleasant nostalgic moment. The movie is laden with magical creatures that amaze and fright the younger lot. There are witches, goblins, gummy bear monsters, werewolves, ghosts and of course the ventriloquist doll, Slappy himself. It is a treat for a child’s eye.

The movie takes the audience on a magical adventure with Sonny, Sam and Sarah. The three protagonists find themselves on a quest to save the neighborhood from supernatural creatures that Snappy, has brought to life. The movie tells us a tale of two friends, Sonny played by Jeremy Ray Taylor and Sam, played by Caleel Harris. The two happen to find a marionette called Slappy at an abandoned house. The movie opens as we are introduced to Sonny and Sam. The two kids who are always in trouble with the school bullies or are removing junk from old houses in hopes of making a fortune from abandoned goods, as a side-business. They stumble upon a house where they discover Slappy and end up unleashing this demonic doll.

This house belonged to R.L Stine once and Slappy is no ordinary puppet, it is a character out of S.T Stine’s uncompleted manuscript. It is a mischievous doll that longs for a family. When Slappy is unable to find a family, he decides to create his own family by bringing all the Halloween mannequins, he finds in a drugstore, to life. He wants to bring Halloween to life, permanently. With his tricks and magic, Snappy brings the entire town’s Halloween mannequins to life. Sam and Sonny are joined by Sonny’s elder sister, Sarah, on an adventure to save the neighborhood and particularly their mother as Snappy wishes to have their mother as his own. It is up to Sam, Sonny and Sarah to save the day.

In an interesting turn of events, we see the character of R.L Stine himself in this movie, the author of Goosebumps, played by Jack Black. While, this comes as a pleasant surprise, and Jack Black with his phenomenal acting skills has always done justice to his comical and entertaining roles, however his, was a brief role. We see Stine for barely a few minutes in the movie. We find ourselves missing Jack Black’s presence as his part in the previous Goosebumps movie was much elaborated and was a part we all enjoyed. Jack Black’s role in this movie was only confined to the end, where he comes after the day is already saved and only serves the purpose of giving Sarah advice on how to write her collage application essay.

Taylor and Harris fit their characters with ease. They portray two school going kids, one of whom is a nerd and a science enthusiastic. They are often in trouble with the school bully. Their acting skills were natural and convincing. They effortlessly look like two close friends. Isemen as Sarah, does a fair job at her character too, showing her frustration as an elder sister being forced to look after her younger brother and manifesting her concerns at failing to do so. She depicts a girl who gets her heart broken by a boy she likes and someone who is also troubled with a writer’s block on her collage application essay. The narrative build around these characters is quite typical as of any other high school kids portrayed in several other movies. The movie had a weak storyline that revolved around Slappy’s wish to have a family. The script is mildly humorous and attempts to get the viewer hooked every now and then. It is a quite a straight-forward tale however Barry Peterson has done a fine job at making the movie an artwork. The animations and graphics too are an eye candy.

The movie neither has any connection to the original Goosebumps story nor was an exact adaptation of any of the Goosebumps series, much to the dismay of Goosebumps fans. In addition, it failed to build a story with substance around Goosebumps and therefore fails to please the taste of Goosebumps devotees. However it does appeal to children and still manages to give them a fun day at the movies! Overall, it was a good children’s movie.

However, the movie runs in direct competition with our local film, The Donkey King. As both these films have just been released, it is no surprise that children will have a hard time deciding which movie to opt for. However, given the hype built around Donkey King and its growing popularity here in Pakistan, it is foreseeable that Donkey King will do a better business than Goosebumps 2. In either case, it appears that children will have a pleasurable time.


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