It’s a weekend of horrific new releases. This week we are blessed with two terror-laden tales. Goosebumps is heavy on the comedy, while Crimson Peak is heavy on the….well….heaviness.
Ah, the ’90s. It was a wondrous time filled with Pearl Jam, Girbaud and Crystal Pepsi. But, one of the biggest signifiers of that great decade was R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. You couldn’t look at a Scholastic ad without seeing the covers of several new iterations. To add to the literary takeover, a Goosebumps TV series debuted on Fox on Friday nights (now on Netflix). It was Tales from the Crypt for those who couldn’t handle the mature content. It was Are You Afraid of the Dark for those of us who didn’t have cable. Man, I miss the ’90s.
Now, Goosebumps hits the big screen, but this time with a meta twist. The movie starts with Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom moving from New York to quiet, old Delaware. Zach’s time as the new kid starts off dull enough. He quickly makes friends with the obnoxious geek, Champ (Ryan Lee) and meets his cute neighbor, Hannah (Odeya Rush). However, Hannah’s father is the town shut-in who is very protective of his house and daughter. It’s not long before Zach finds the library of manuscripts that the teens recognize as the works of R.L. Stine (Jack Black) himself. Upon opening one, they unleash the monsters of the Goosebumps world to their sleepy little town.
This is a great family movie. Your kids will love it because of the monsters, your teens will appreciate the love story and comic relief and you will love it for the nostalgia and easter eggs thrown in. Even if you haven’t seen the old show or read the books, there is still plenty to enjoy. The comedic timing is great. The highlights being Zach’s bedazzling aunt or the two amateur cops in the town. Also, none of the comic relief is overplayed. In fact, these characters show up infrequently to steal only a few scenes.
Jack Black is thankfully not the lead of this movie. I’m not saying he’s terrible at all. He shows up just enough to mug for the camera and provide exposition, but Goosebumps follows the formula of the books/show, which entails kids investigating weird occurrences taking place around them and eventually saving the day. Dylan and Odeya are the leads here and they carry it well.
Children under seven may be slightly too young for Goosebumps. There are a few zombies and a clown (don’t expose your kids to clowns). The most intense scene for kids will be the werewolf chase in the grocery store. Otherwise, the scares are minimal enough.
They used so many book monsters in the movie, yet it still felt like they were holding back some of the more popular ones for possible sequels. Slappy, the ventriloquist’s dummy, is the primary villain here and he is great. He has a history with R.L. Stine and he wants to punish everyone because of it.
My kids may be too young to see this movie now, but I’m excited to watch it with them in Halloween seasons to come. B
Beware of Crimson Peak. Well, beware of Crimson Peak’s trailers.
This is not the horror extravaganza you are expecting. Rather, it’s something deeper and more rewarding.
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is a young independent woman who aspires to be a fiction author. From an early age, she has been blessed/cursed with a second sight when it comes to spirits. She is soon swooned by a visiting baron named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Everyone outside of the couple sees their relationship as a terrible idea. Yet, they run off to England to live out their Jane Austen-type existence. However, once they get there, Edith realizes there is nothing fanciful about Thomas’s situation or his real estate. The estate on Allerdale is slowly sinking into the clay beneath. It isn’t long before Edith is pursued by motivated ghosts and starts to question everything and everyone around her.
The trailers sell Crimson Peak as a horrific nightmare. To be accurate, it’s closer to a turn of the century gothic romance with malicious elements thrown in to the mix. You will enjoy Edith and Thomas’s budding chemistry, all the while knowing that events are about to take a turn for the worst.
I shouldn’t have expected a straight-forward scary movie from auteur Guillermo Del Toro. If you haven’t seen The Devil’s Backbone, you should now (I’ll wait). From the outside it appears to be a ghost story, but it goes far deeper. Crimson Peak is very similar. There is a slight amount of jump scares. You will see some great looking ghosts, that would have benefitted with less CGI effects, but the designs are original and stick with you.
Del Toro knows how to set a mood. The set of the mansion is (pardon the term) fully fleshed out. You hear every creak, you feel the cold gusts of wind and the overall grim nature of the mansion.
Crimson Peak was the type of movie where I walked out of the theater appreciating the beauty of the movie I just saw, but feeling disappointed about the lack of scares. Yet, it wasn’t till I drove home, that I began to think about the intricacies of the plot, score and mood. That is when I started falling in like with the film. It is one of the most rational haunted house movies I have seen.
Despite the R rating, I really consider this to be a perfect date movie. Those who are interested in a sweeping romance, betrayal and drama will get what they need. Meanwhile, this film gets quite brutal. The violence, while used sparingly, is the kind to make you cover your eyes and grimace. I’ll be honest, at one time I told the screen to stop it.
This may not be the perfect Halloween movie because it’s not what it appears to be, but it’s a supernatural story that will happily stay with you and make you want to see it again. B+