Goosebumps is back, and it’s offering a fresh take on R.L. Stine’s collection of YA horror for a new age.
The series, now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu, ties Goosebumps’ most iconic tales into an interconnected anthology. When a group of teens spend Halloween night at the Biddle house, they experience and encounter cursed items that change their lives. Unbeknownst to them, the experience connects them to a generational punishment on behalf of their parents… on behalf of a vengeful ghost.
Goosebumps stars genre favourite Justin Long (Barbarian) as a new teacher in town, alongside Zack Morris (EastEnders), Isa Briones (Star Trek: Picard), Miles McKenna (Guilty Party), Ana Yi Puig (Gossip Girl), and Will Price (The Equalizer). Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets) and Rob Letterman (Pokémon Detective Pikachu) developed the series and are executive producers,
Here are seven things we liked about what we’ve seen of Goosebumps so far—and three we didn’t like so much.
Liked: The Haunted Mask
It’s really impressive to see how all the totems end up connecting as the series goes on. At first, I was a little bummed that the Haunted Mask looks plainer than it does in previous depictions, but my initial criticism of the mask—which was heading toward being a “didn’t like” entry on this list—got turned upside down when it really kicked into action.
Liked: Spooky house rules
The Biddle house is a dream house, cursed objects and all. It just looks good and is now an aspirational Halloween party house like Whipstaff Manor from Casper before it. Might be worth leaving with some bad juju.
Liked: Slappy is back!
You can’t have Goosebumps without this guy. I hate dolls and puppets and the like and if you thought Slappy couldn’t get scarier looking, behold! I dread finding out what he has to do with the Biddle house.
There’s some major ick here—but the worms are so gag-inducing that I can’t say they’re bad. They’re effective and there are many points where you don’t even want to look at the screen. Goosebumps brings literal goosebumps with this detail.
Liked: Ghostly secrets
The Biddle house ghost targeting the teens and luring them to items like the camera and the Haunted Mask works so well.
Didn’t Like: The lighting is so grey
We miss the familiar bright palette of Goosebumps. Here, things are mostly grey and grim. Some day shots look like night shot for day. Even the colouring of the Goosebumps cursed goodies feels washed-out and overly sepia-toned. It’s a bold take but makes the tale look muddled at times.
Didn’t Like: A past that impacts the future
Bringing in a “Losers Club” of sorts—parents who experienced some of the Biddle house curses before their kids did—sort of makes the older characters awful from the jump. It’s hard to feel for them when they led to a major tragedy. Hopefully that changes as more episodes arrive for this solid gateway horror that has some really big stakes for two generations. The story structure has potential, but feels too much like an It riff so far.
Didn’t Like: Pacing is a little all over the place
Bringing all the different stories together is an intriguing angle for this adaptation. Since the house seems to apparently be a source for all the totems from the books in this series, it feels sort of constrained at times in trying to fit everything together.
Liked: The gross-outs
The spirit of the slimy Goosebumps of yore really comes through in the fun gore moments. Since this is still gateway horror, the alternative ways to be nasty on screen without blood are unhinged. It would be terrifying if it wasn’t so brutally funny.
Liked: Justin Long
It’s always good to see horror film’s fall-guy continue to fall… guy. Here Long gets to play a teacher who becomes instrumental to a vengeful spirit—and chews the scenery when the spirit pretends to still be Mr. Bratt. Can’t wait to see where that goes.
Watch Goosebumps streaming on Disney+.
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