By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”; Director: Ari Sandel; Cast: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Black, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong; Rating: **1/2
This is a sequel to the 2015 released film Goosebumps. The action in this film revolves around three kids. The precocious budding scientist and electricity obsessed Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) whose experiments with wireless electricity follow the trail blazed by his hero Nikolai Tesla, his best friend Sam (Caleel Harris) and Sonny’s older sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) who is an aspiring writer.
The main representative of evil, here, is the charmless Slappy (voiced by Mick Wingert) a sneering ventriloquist’s dummy in a natty charcoal suit, who was found in a dilapidated home which once supposedly belonged to R.L. Stine the original author of Goosebumps series.
Sonny and Sam in their bid to earn some extra pocket money dig him out from the waste along an unpublished Stine manuscript.
Upon opening the book and reciting an attached incantation, Slappy springs to life and he resembles a demanding new born baby. And he wants nothing more than to be a part of Sonny’s family. But when he is denied that wish, all hell breaks loose by bringing to life an army of Halloween monsters, including numerous Goosebumps characters as well as sharp-toothed gummy bears, giant spider formed by balloons and flying witches.
There is enough fun in the plot to propel the narrative forward, but they never quite hit the level of its predecessor.
The action lacks the yelling, screaming and running away, that made the previous edition a likeable film. This edition is a tad insipid and lacks flavour.
As for the performances, all the actors are competent. Wendy McLendon-Covey has a thankless role as Sonny and Sarah’s mother and Ken Jeong is there as their weird, Halloween-enthusiast neighbour. There are a couple of bullies there to provide some additional villainy stuff.
The biggest issue in this edition is the miniscule role of Jack Black. And despite appearing as R.L. Stine in the last few minutes of the film, he does not leave an impact as how he did in the earlier Goosebumps.
Overall, “Goosebumps 2” fails to give you enough goose bumps as it is a routine, funnily scary and mediocre film.