Goosebumps 2 is all honking geese and zero bumps in the night. “This is Halloween. This is Halloween. Halloween! Halloween!”. Oops. Wrong family-friendly spooky sensation! Stine’s series of children’s horror books were an essential ingredient for pop culture adolescence for many youthful individuals. After all, it is the second-best-selling book series of all time. For those too young or too petrified to watch ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ or ‘The Amityville Horror’, Stine’s daringly imaginative tales of fright were the perfect replacement. Letterman’s previous adaptation a few years ago was able to capture the buoyancy of its source material with various chills along the way, even if the final product was incredibly watered-down and simply a menagerie of Stine’s creations.
Sandel’s sequel, which again sees the antagonistic ventriloquist dummy Slappy reanimate all things Halloween to cause a wave of destruction, is essentially the exact same film. Yes, really. Beat for beat. Three kids use a plot device of Stine’s, in this case an unpublished manuscript, to capture howling beasts, carved pumpkins, ghoulish ghosts and tasty gummy bears, before attempting to stop Slappy. Sounds familiar, right? Inherently, that’s the problem. The overwhelming sense of familiarity. It leaves an entirely predictable trail of breadcrumbs that, even the target demographic of children, would find simple to follow and repetitive. Its predecessor settled on humour rather than tame scares, a choice that disregarded its source material. Well, in comparison, this not-so continuation has been blisteringly hosed down by Slappy himself. The fatigued cheesy comedy is overbearing to say the least, turning one or two predictable jump scares into an eye-rolling sensations. With zero natural chemistry exuding from its three main stars, every line of supposed hilarity was forced beyond measure.
Characterisation was weak all-round, with each character fitting an essential archetype. The bullied overweight kid is the “smartest guy in school”. His friend is, well, who knows! His unusually calm older sister instantly believing his remarks of a “dummy coming to life”, despite the fact she forgot to lock her school locker that kept Slappy hidden away...twice. Black is back, for approximately five minutes to steal the spotlight from everyone. In that respect, it worked. Jeong provides some humble humour as the neighbouring holiday-enthusiast, but severely under-utilised. Once all the shenanigans had been put to rest, a ham-fisted moral is then obligatorily shoved in at the last second! Despite no overarching development of said moral through the preceding runtime! “Follow your dreams!”. Urgh. Gimme a break. Atleast the traditional Halloween costumes and visual effects were pleasant enough to amuse.
That said, Haunted Halloween is not a Goosebumps adaptation. It just isn’t. Absent of horror chills and maximised on frenzied chaos. A sequel that rehashes its predecessor’s story without the same general entertainment or level of ingenuity. Uninspired, lethargic and overfamiliar. Halloween is cancelled...