Sony is bringing its Goosebumps movie to the International Comic-Con in San Diego next week (check out the schedule for the 2014 'Con), with star Jack Black in tow. The film adaptation of author R.L. Stine's best-selling scary kids' book series features Black playing a fictional version of Stine, who writes his Goosebumps novels in order to (literally) keep his demons in check - until the various monsters and ghouls from Stine's imagination break loose into the real world.
At that point, it's up to Stine, his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) and the new kid in town, Zach (Dylan Minnette), to restore the status quo, in a movie that seems reminiscent of the 1990s in more ways than one (see: the similar plot elements from '90s kids fare like Hocus Pocus, Jumanji, and so on). Then again, scary supernatural adventures and/or horror-comedies intended for youngsters are in short supply nowadays (a film such as ParaNorman begin the rare example), so maybe now's as good a time as ever to pull out and dust off that formula for a Goosebumps feature.
EW recently interviewed Black about his new project and commented on that, pointing out that most scary movies released nowadays (Sinister, Evil Dead, The Conjuring, etc.) are "hard-core horror" offerings intended for adults only. Stine's books have long been praised for their ability to introduce young readers to the supernatural horror genre without traumatizing them, and Black says that the Goosebumps film aims to do as much.
Well, kids like scary movies, but you can’t take them to what are the big scary movies now where Satan comes out and bites your genitals off. Those movies can actually leave you mentally [scarred]; that’s not for kids. But kids still like to get a little thrill and a little danger, so you need projects like this.
Black also described Stine as "really smart and funny and sweet," but admitted that he plays the author as a "curmudgeonly dark, brooding beast master" (a comically-exaggerrated one, no doubt), with Stine's blessing. He also mentioned that Stine does, in fact, make a cameo appearance in the Goosebumps movie, but avoided spilling the beans about who he plays (or when the author shows up in the movie). You can get an early look at Black and his costars in the film, via the official Goosebumps stills included below.
The final script for Goosebumps is credited to screenwriter Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After, Jack the Giant Slayer) and filmmaker Mike White, who also penned the Black-starring Orange County, School of Rock, and Nacho Libre. Meanwhile, the direction on the film was handled by Rob Letterman, who previously collaborated with Black on the animated feature Shark's Tale and the live-action, kid-friendly, Gulliver's Travels movie.
It's probably best to adjust (for most people, that'll mean "lower") your expectations accordingly for Goosebumps, based on the credentials of those working behind the scenes. All the same, here's hoping that the movie turns out alright and endears post-millennials to the world of spooky creatures and things that go bump in the night, as Stine's original books managed to do for many adults who grew up in the '90s.
Goosebumps opens in U.S. theaters on August 7th, 2015.