Halloween Fun, Beware of Slappy
Here’s the sequel to “Goosebumps” (2015) both films are based on the children’s horror book series of the same name by R. L. Stine of which millions of young readers in the 1990s, were smitten. During my years of teaching gifted literature in the classroom in that time, we, as teachers decided not to count these books on children’s home reading lists due to the sub-par writing. It’s with utter surprise that I tell you that the movie was actually good, and when I say good, I mean it’s not bad, and you don’t have to stay away—unless, your kids have an aversion to a creepy talking dummy who dominates the film.
Wendi McLendon-Covey, of “The Goldbergs” fame is perfectly cast as a single working parent Kathy, she has just the right amount of dry humor and fun-loving nature to play an over-loaded mom. Naturally, she relies heavily on her eighteen-year-old college-bound daughter, Sarah (Madison Iseman) to babysit while she works double shifts at the nursing home center.
Sarah who dreams of attending Columbia college is having writer’s block when it comes to her college essay. Serendipitously, the topic she’s to write about is ‘overcoming fear.’ Due to her mom’s pleading, she’s easily distracted as she’s usually in charge of her Jr. High brother Sonny, (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his friend, Sam (Caleel Harris) who are normally getting into trouble, while Sarah cleans up the mess.
The setting is the present day with a small-town backdrop this time around is fictional Wardenclyffe, New York, the principal landmark is a mushroom-shaped tower built by Nikola Tesla. The inspiration being the real-life namesake of Tesla’s long-demolished Wardenclyffe station on Long Island. It’s near Halloween, and the town, decorated like a Hallmark greeting card, with an exuberant neighbor played by Ken Jeong, over-the-top decorations winning the first place prize.
When the boys receive an invitation to collect junk in a haunted house for their new junk business, unbeknownst to them they discover its R. L. Stine’s childhood home. They find magical “Goosebumps” books that unleash Slappy, finding more than they bargained for, a creepy, ventriloquist dummy (voiced by Jack Black) that talks on his own and can use magic. Slappy declares he’s now part of the family and leaves with the boys. In the beginning, Slappy grants the kids’ wishes, pulls down a bully’s pants and finishes homework. However, shortly he turns into an evil, giggling, conniving force to be reckoned.
Parents, Slappy is frightening upon first meeting. The seven-year-old sitting next to me during the screening was terrified, although after awhile Slappy actually does becomes comical, in that the film plays up the humor. Please use your own ‘fright factor’ to monitor your children as Slappy is a central character in the movie and has the most screen time.
You’ll see a hysterical gummy bear scene; Halloween decorations and costumes come to life acting out their personas. Yes, there’s even a fiery headless horseman galloping around town, amid the bats, witches, ghosts, fleeing pumpkins and probably any other costume that might come to mind. The film reminded me of Halloween fun as in “Hocus Pocus” that didn’t fare too well with critics upon its opening, but if you’re looking for some family Halloween fun, this film fits the bill.
Sarah Knight Adamson© October 12, 2018