Goosebumps Review: A Disappointingly Stale Adaptation

Disney+ and Hulu’s Goosebumps series can’t live up to the spooky energy of its source material.

Ana Yi Puig in Goosebumps
Photo: David Astorga | Disney

This Goosebumps review contains no spoilers.

R. L. Stine’s famous teen horror book series Goosebumps was a big thing in the ‘90s. The books sold like candy (which meant over four million copies a month during their prime), and the author was dubbed the “Stephen King of children’s literature” — which is strange because I always thought that Stephen King was the Stephen King for kids — with a substantial influence on shaping the genre. Nevertheless, Stine’s novels were unsubtle and simple, usually devoid of gruesome violence and murder, appealing to younger readers by creating deliciously spooky atmospheres combined with campy humor. Naturally, they spawned multiple adaptations from video games to TV series to movies and more, varying in quality and success.

The latest one, created by Rob Letterman and Nicholas Stoller for Disney+ and Hulu, Goosebumps, unfortunately, falls in the line of weaker adaptations that entirely fail to capture the essence of why these stories were such innocent fun in the first place. Compared to the 2015 movie, or the classic TV show that aired between ‘95 and ‘98, this modern retelling (based on multiple stories) is embarrassing and humiliating to the entire franchise. For the most part, it plays like a Scary Movie parody, except the jokes are virtually non-existent, and the only source of humor comes from how unintentionally funny and laughably awful everything in the series is.

Opting for a serial structure instead of an anthology, Goosebumps aims to tell one continuous story through an ensemble cast of high schoolers (and their parents), who each face different manifestations of a supernatural evil they come across at a party in the town’s haunted house. We follow a group made of five teen archetypes, Isaiah (Zack Morris), the jock, James (Miles McKenna), the gay guy, Margo (Isa Briones), the smartass, Isabella (Ana Yi Puig), the loner, and Lucas (Will Price), the weirdo, encountering the ghost of Harold Biddle (Ben Cockell), who was tragically killed by a demonic force in 1993.


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