With more attempts to get things off the ground than the Wright brothers and a danger of movie nut whiplash from all the yo-yo-ing with release dates, Goosebumps looked like it could live up to its title for all the wrong reasons. How wide of the mark can you be? Default mode doom is entirely misplaced here and February has a fun and (very) fast adaptation of author RL Stine's best-selling children's horror stories. For many a kid this will be a gateway film to new worlds, while for seen-it-all-twice adults it's a reminder not to be jaded.
Grieving mother and son Gale and Zach Cooper (Ryan and Minnette) move from New York City to sleepy Delaware, and right from the get-go have problems with their new neighbour, the reclusive Mr Shivers (Black). Very rude and incredibly paranoid about the fence dividing his house from the Coopers', Shivers is hell-bent on keeping Zach away from his daughter, Hannah (Rush). Easier said than done. Zach and Hannah are really keen on each other and with one secret sortie following another it's not long before the youngsters open up a big book of trouble.
Ah, nostalgia. At Christmastime in 1984 Irish kids had the opportunity to watch Ghostbusters and Gremlins in cinemas. Now, Goosebumps isn't on a par with those classics but it shares the same wise-cracking, anarchic spirit and would've made a good chaser back in the day. While there's a lack of truly great gags here, there is loads of B-movie charm and the old town-in-terror trope is played out really well. It's also far less of a starring vehicle for Black than you may think with all kinds of crazy adversaries stealing the show instead - their head honcho is memorably voiced by the man himself. And breathe easy: the teen heroes aren't annoying.
Chances are Goosebumps will prove to be a little too scary for those born after 2008 - fun for three-quarters of the family, if you will - but they'll grow into liking it. A new festive TV schedule staple is born and a sequel is on the cards. There's enough wackiness to warrant it.