There are plenty of scary movies left over from our youth that left us shaking in our moon boots, but the pinnacle of nineties horror will forever be Goosebumps. The book series turned television and home movie franchise from author R.L. Stine was the perfect combination of Nickelodeon-flavored cheese and enough scares and frights to necessitate at least a bathroom night light every once in awhile. A ventriloquist dummy that comes to life only when you’re looking? Don’t even pretend like you’re not creeped out by that. The vengeful spirit of a long-dead summer camper who drags kids to their death while they’re trying to ace their swimming test in the murky waters of the lake? Please.
The one thing the franchise has been missing is a full-length feature film, but that’s about to change – a new Goosebumps-centric film has been announced with Jack Black in the lead. Black will star as a very R.L. Stine-like spooky story author named…wait for it…Mr. Shivers. (Is this part of his new renaissance?) As the best-named creepy-crawly tale author in the world, Shivers is faced with a dilemma; his collection of characters comes to life and begins haunting him in the real world. Forced into hiding like the big scaredy cat that he is, Shivers has to rely on help from the least expected protector.
Or I mean, if you know anything about how these books work, or watched children’s television about one to two times in the 90s, it’s not that surprising. Shivers’ young, “quirky and mysterious” niece, played by Odeya Rush (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, We Are What We Are, the upcoming The Giver) must team up with her equally young male neighbor (uncasted for now) to stop her uncle’s mad creations and get them back in the pages of his spooktacular novels. There’s a good chance that she has a trusty black cat companion and doesn’t fit in at school because of her encyclopedic knowledge of all the things that go bump in the night.
The flick, directed by Gulliver’s Travels’ Rob Letterman (not always the best news, but he does have experience with whimsical children’s material), has innumerable characters to work with when it comes to having Rush battle her uncle’s scariest creations. Goosebumps was an insanely popular book series, selling over 300 million copies worldwide, only surpassed in popularity by Harry Potter. The TV series aired in over 100 countries and held the #1 spot from 1995 to 1998. That’s a lot of monsters and kid angst to sort through.
Seriously though, Rush and Black needs to watch out for Slappy the ventriloquist dummy and his bride. They are not okay.