After the town-destroying events of the first film, you would think that the real life horrors of R.L. Stine’s work were locked away for good. But when Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his buddy Sam (Caleel Harris) discover one of Stine's unfinished manuscripts in an abandoned house, Slappy is once again unleashed to wreak havoc and bring Halloween to life - right down to the gummy bears - in Ari Sandel’s sequel to 2015’s Goosebumps.
As with the first film, it's always a pleasure seeing these iconic creatures and monsters come to life, and putting them all together in a unique story set in a universe where Stine himself exists is a really enjoyable and interesting concept. Following on from the events of 2015’s Goosebumps, Stine is nowhere to be found and the story takes place in Wardenclyffe, New York, with a whole new set of characters including Sonny, his sister Sarah (Madison Iseman), his best friend Sam and their wacky neighbour Mr Chu (the ever extravagant Ken Jeong). Sonny and Sam unwillingly release a different version of Slappy who just wants a family but, when he is rejected, decides to create his own - and it just happens to be Halloween night...
What stands out about this sequel is that it accurately captures the tone and pacing of the original film, although it lacks that special edge that the original possessed. Director Ari Sandel had big shoes to fill (Rob Letterman was unable to helm the sequel due to his involvement in Detective Pikachu), but still manages to create an entertaining film. The cast of young actors have great chemistry with each other, and it’s clear to see that everyone had great fun making the movie. Although it never captures the terrifying nature that the 90s TV show did, its sole purpose of introducing a new generation to the work of Stine has been successfully achieved.
The writing is fairly clever too. Over the course of the two films, and in real life, Stine is compared to legendary horror novelist Stephen King, and that doesn’t slow down in this instalment. At one point, a red balloon is seen and Stine (Jack Black briefly reprising his role from the first film, although uncredited) bellows “I knew that was my idea!” obviously referring to IT - and it doesn’t stop there as eagle-eyed viewers will recognise Jeremy Ray Taylor who played Ben in 2017’s IT.
Special features include a short selection of deleted scenes that didn’t really add much to the film and were removed to keep the runtime digestible but are still nice to see here, and a Gag Reel that proves everyone involved had a really fun time making the film.
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween follows a lot of the same story beats as the first film but still displays some clever writing and provides audiences with an entertaining, family-friendly 90-minute horror romp.
GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: ARI SANDEL / SCREENPLAY: ROB LIEBER / STARRING: MADISON ISEMAN, KEN JEONG, MICK WINGERT / RELEASE DATE: 18TH FEBRUARY